Thursday, 27 February 2014

Transcript of Interview - Sky PVO News Hour - 26 February 2014

Transcript of Interview with Peter van OnselenSky News – PVO News Hour

Wednesday, 26 February 20147.20 pm

E & O E

SUBJECT: Ballot security;Voter ID; Electoral Matters Committee; Australian Electoral Commission

PETER VAN ONSELEN: Well the shocking failures of the AEC during the 2013 elections bring into question whether votes counted at the ballot box are actually being counted in the tally room. How safe, really, is your vote? Joining me now is the chair of the House of Representatives electoral affairs committee, Liberal MP Tony Smith.

Mr Smith thanks for being there. Let’s just get a couple of facts on the table first. There’s no CCTV footage when you go in to vote, correct?

TONY SMITH MP: That’s right.

VAN ONSELEN: And when to go into vote, there’s no signing off of your name, or anything with ID attached to that process. Correct?

SMITH: That’s correct.

VAN ONSELEN: And if you were to vote more than one time, there’s no electronic integration between polling booths at the federal level. That’s also right?

SMITH: That is right. That is correct.

VAN ONSELEN: Well that’s a complete debacle isn’t it?

SMITH: Well I’ve long supported having what you’d call a live electoral roll. Well as you know on Election Day, you turn up to vote, you get asked your name and address, and the second question you get asked is if you’ve voted anywhere else – and then that’s the extent of it.

VAN ONSELEN: Well, I know we have examples of electronic voting overseas. You know, there can be problems there too. But if it’s not electronic voting, what about electronic integration - like what we’re talking about here - between polling booths? Does that happen anywhere else at state level or overseas that have analogous systems to ours?

SMITH: Here in the ACT we’ve heard they’ve recently introduced that. So if you go into the polling booth and you have your names crossed off, it is simultaneously - or within a very short period of time - crossed off at all other polling booths, so it would detect a problem very quickly.

VAN ONSELEN: Alright, well you’re the chair of the electoral matters committee. You’ll make a recommendation about things that need to come out of the 2013 election. I know you can’t pre-empt that, but in more general terms, in your opinion, what are some reforms that you would like to see come into play?

SMITH: I certainly want to discuss the live electoral roll with all the members of the committee and that’s something we’re hearing evidence on. We’re looking at some of the longer term issues like electronic voting. And I’ve always been a strong supporter, been on the record, as a strong supporter of voter ID. I think that we could do a lot more to address vulnerabilities really, and I could hear your package from down here in Canberra, and those statistics last night really do point to a vulnerability and the opportunity for fraud at election time.

VAN ONSELEN: And just finally while I’ve got you there Tony Smith, can I ask you about the resignation, I suppose, of the AEC Commissioner? Most of us would say it had to come. Here’s a speculative question, and I don’t know whether you want to answer it or not. If he hadn’t resigned, would the government have sacked him, do you think?

SMITH: I can’t speculate on that. I mean, we were due to hear from him and wanted to hear from him. We will go ahead with our hearing in early March with the Acting Commissioner because he’s running the Western Australian election. And we want to receive an assurance on behalf of Western Australian voters and taxpayers that they are good to go.

VAN ONSELEN: Alright, Tony Smith. Appreciate you being there. Thanks for your company.

SMITH: Thanks a lot Peter.


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