Australia Post plans blockchain-based e-voting system


news Australia Post has aired plans to take voting into the digital era in a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Electoral Matters Committee that would see it build a blockchain-based e-voting system for the state.

Digital voting promises convenience, rapid counting of votes, increased efficiency and transparency, and reduced costs. However, to date, there has been “no wide-spread, consistently successful adoption” of digital voting by world governments, Australia Post said.

Recognising the complexity required for such a digital voting system, Tim Adamson – Australia Post’s State Director, Victorian Government & Tasmania and author of the submission – said the solution must be “scalable, resilient and secure”, while voters must be uniquely identifiable. Further, votes must be impossible to alter once cast.

While it must be possible to verify the vote and the vote count, the privacy of the vote must not be compromised, he said. Additionally, such a solution must be flexible enough to allow different types of voting.

For its “complete solution for e-voting”, Australia Post would build an independent e-voting application that links to its identity platform and provides several functions as follows:

  • Anonymised votes to ensure identities cannot be matched to voting preference
  • Ensures one vote per identity and monitors against misuse
  • Incorporates robust compliance and audit engines and processes to ensure government and public trust in the system.

While other organisations are already looking at digital voting solutions using blockchain technology, Australia Post said it is “uniquely positioned to solve this challenge”.

“As society continues its transformation into a true digital economy we believe that Australia Post has an important role to play in continuing to help electoral bodies in the execution of their responsibilities,” said Adamson in the submission.

Rather than leap in at the deep end with a large scale e-voting system, Australia Post said its roadmap would start with small, localised solutions for corporate, civic and community organisations.

This will enable the organisation to gain insights into the behaviours of voters and the early demands of a digital solution, as well as prove the viability of the solution.

“Our initial offerings will target institutions such as Universities,” according to the submission. “Universities are self-contained eco systems of broad voter activity in clubs, unions and board level voting.”

An additional advantage would be that the voter community within a university will likely have a higher level of digital awareness than other demographics and as such is likely to “engage more readily, providing rapid learning opportunities and proof points for the solution”.

The next stage would address the “more complex challenges” of voting at a parliamentary scale, within regulatory and legal constraints.

By showcasing the “proof points”, Australia Post suggested it will be in a position to influence broader adoption and approach regulatory and legal issues “with confidence”.

To successfully digitise Victorian elections, Australia Post conceded it will need to address security concerns and the associated technology costs, as well accommodate the “complex and cherished Australian democratic approaches”.

Absentee and postal voting will also need to be included in the solution, the submission said.

For VEC specifically, the organisation will need to create a solution for real-time capture, verification and audit of up to 4 million uniquely allocated votes across 17 parties and almost 900 candidates.

Further it will need to protect the integrity of the voting process and stand up to the scrutiny of the public, as well as legislative, regulatory, and political experts and the press.

Impartiality is also an issue, and any solution must give equal prominence to all candidates when displayed on a variety of digital devices, the submission said.

“With a successful history of supporting the conduct of Federal, State and Local elections through postal voting we have considered how our role might evolve in this space, leveraging our existing services and our new digital and identity capabilities in such a way that no citizen is excluded from voting,” the submission said, adding:

“The challenges are significant and it will take an organisation with Australia Post’s unique capabilities, experience and community connection, working with organisations such as VEC, to solve them.”

Image credit: Australia Post


  1. (Apart from just regurgitating a press release…. urgh)

    You completely missed, without comment or analysis:
    “Australia Post would build an independent e-voting application that links to its identity platform”

    AusPost isnt building a e-voting system to be nice, they are trying to force every Australian to be a customer of its identity platform.

    Has anyone explained how its “more transparent” than paper ballots?

  2. This is a terrible idea and I hope it never gets any real traction.

    There is no great benefit to making it digital but there are many irreconcilable issues with making it digital.

  3. Haven’t people learned anything from the recent census “denial of service” fiasco?

    Call me a tin foil hat wearer, but I believe any internet site can be hacked or compromised. Don’t forget that the Bureau of Meteorology was hacked not long ago.

    My rant and rave:

    It’s bad enough that Labor and the Liberal/National party coalition have been receiving huge donations from foreign people, most likely backed by the Chinese government.

    ( I’ll just remind people that the Chinese government IS a communist government which has absolutely no interest in the maintenance or spreading of democracy.)

    The communists of China have adopted a new strategy since the loss of the “Cold War”. They saw that direct military strength competition as performed by the USSR failed so they adopted capitalism as a way to grow richer than the west and spread their influence around the world. They have secured exclusive rights to many vital mineral resources in Africa by influencing African governments. The Chinese government builds roads and hospitals in exchange for those exclusive rights.

    Darwin Harbor has been leased to China for 99 years. Does anyone think China would permit any government to lease one of China’s harbors? Likewise there attempts to secure Australia’s vital power utilities.

    When the next GFC hits and the global banking system fails, China will be the only country to have the money to bail them out. The US Gov is already in debt to the Chinese Gov to the tune of trillions of dollars I believe.

    Sorry for that rant, but I just see that China has moved from a poor country to a rich one in the space of 30 or so years and it will only get richer and have more influence over almost every country in the world, including Australia.

    • The point with blockchain voting would be that there is no centralised database that can be denied. It is distributed by design. It is easy for anyone with the app to verify the blockchain and hence there is no dispute about votes being rigged, or hacked. It comes back to cryptographic principles which are able to be viewed by all. The real trick is making sure everyone gets one and only one unique vote, and how to make it unidentifiable.

      • Even if a large percentage of Australians used the system to check their vote, how could they verify that there weren’t extra votes cast? In the US, researchers found that only 2 votes extra per precinct would have elected Gore instead of Bush.

        • Voting on paper doesn’t solve the extra votes problem either. It’s possible to go to more than one voting centre, say you haven’t voted anywhere else, and cast an additional vote.

          There are issues that electronic voting has that paper voting doesn’t (I’m particularly interested in how votes will be anonymous), but criticising electronic voting for an issue that exists in the current system just seems unreasonable to me.

  4. Digital voting is inevitable—and starting small is the way to go. But the real way to go would be to open source the software and be 100% transparent as to how the system works; enabling vulnerabilities discovered, exploited and patched years before being used in a federal election.

    Of course, a private company isn’t going to just open source its IP, and that is where it’ll go wrong.

  5. Australia post wouldn’t know how to organise a r**t in a wh*rehouse!

    Its not April 1 is it?

    Maybe should start by learning how to deliver mail, you know the “post” part of their name? It regularly takes them a week or more to deliver a simple packet from Brisbane or Melbourne to Sydney!.

  6. They will run it like their parcel delivery business, just outsource it to the lowest bidding contractor then when it all goes wrong shrug their shoulders saying ‘there’s nothing we can do as the it is all contracted out’.

  7. It seems they have been data mining for ideas on facebook. Because I keep barking on about blockchain.

    However Australia post a provider of e-voting ? What in the hell ? And what credibility do they have in terms of IT services and security ?

    They have outsourced their stuff to StarTrack express. Which has caused an increased in postage prices and delivery times of one week minimum. Those drivers can’t even keep to their lane or understand you can’t sit in the middle of the road on the mobile phone.

    So they want to “win tenders” with a bribe. Then give control of that flakey insecure system to Murdoch so they can rig it.

    Like with the electoral fraud that happened hence the stolen election. They can simply take more people off the rolls and they have no way to complain about it. But being electronic it might make it harder to loose ballots, run out of ballots or provide the wrong ballots.

    They need ID certification in terms of a client certificate to be able to access the system firstly perhaps ? Or is this what blockchain also does ?

    That could prevent the need for bot geoblocking that can’t scale and fall over hence the Census fail.

    Get stuffed Australia Post. It’s barely Australia Post anymore anyway.

  8. I want to know who’s selling them this snake oil. There is literally no real-world use case for the blockchain apart from buying drugs with Bitcoin. As a technology, it does things badly that could be done without it, and it does things for its own sake that shouldn’t be done at all. There’s a vast difference between “interesting” and “in any way a good idea”.

    Paper ballots are one of the reasons people trust the vote in Australia.

    On what planet is this a good idea.

  9. There are three main problems with paper based systems as I see it:
    1. The slowness of obtaining the result
    2. The fallibility of tired counters
    3. The ability of paper to go missing.
    There is one old-fashioned method which could assist, the old punched card!
    Using a punched card, or a marked card, the vote could be scanned as the voter walks out, under his/her supervision. The results could be then counted progressively by electorate, the results known by the end of the evening. Messy? Possibly. Tamper proof? Almost foolproof. Count by electorate? Yes

    • @ Don Richardson
      Punch cards is how the USA got the “Hanging Chad”, and by having machinery that didn’t remove the Chad completely allowed a court case that resulted in the rise of GW Bush to US President.
      Paper ballots using a pen or pencil is still the most secure way to run an election.

    • Don, not one of those reasons stands up.

      1) The ONLY reason that it took so long to call the election in this cycle was that is was so close that the AEC had to wait for all the postal votes to come in, which is legislated as 13(?) days.

      In any event, what issue comes from a slightly delayed result? The Government was in caretaker for two months in the lead up – that made a difference to the country how exactly?

      2) Oh please. Tired counters? Given how there are party representatives at the count, and the count is distributed across many people – how is that a real problem?

      3) Paper to go missing? You argue against yourself. There are all sorts of easy, verifiable checks and balances to see if paper votes have “gone missing” – sealing ballot boxes, records of voter counts per booth and party rep’s as observers. If an electronic vote goes missing – then your entire trust chain of the ENTIRE vote is destroyed. How can you prove chain of custody of electronic votes?

      Even if, theoretically, you could produce a accurate custody chain of electronic voting that is resistant to just plain negligence, how do you preserve (and trust) that against a determined hacker?

      In Australia, rigging votes on the scale of an election swing is really really hard. It needs to be a large, distributed conspiracy involving many people across many states, and its pretty much impossible to do it without leaving fingerprints. Hacking an electronic vote might take one person or a small group – it might just take one insider in the AEC, or one guy sitting in his Mum’s house. It makes the risk/reward equation radically different – in favour of hacking.

  10. It’s heartening to see that Australia Post, like the ASX, see the distinct advantages that blockchain has in creating “transaction” for every individual, maintaining a secure record that not only the user can verify but also, if they allow, for anyone other then the intended recipient.

    Meaning if you ever felt that there was criminal activity you could enable access to allow for 3rd party investigation, be it investigative journalist, or a body such as the Police or in the case of voting, the AEC.
    This can be done anonymously but with you being self assured that the decision or transaction you had made was both legitimate and had been received / counted.

    There’s the possibility that people could create phantom transactions, in much the same way they do during paper ballots, if you missed it, the youtube video on rigging the Australian election (this like any attempt to fix a public vote is illegal and sometimes people get caught, well, there are laws, that if enforced make it a jailable offence with big fines.)

    There are plenty of alternatives to Australia Post’s offering, I’d suggest as a starting point.

    Digital democracy is an inevitability that will deliver rational and compassionate government with the balls and means to stand up to large and powerful corporate interests.

    By participating in this discussion you’re demonstrating both awareness of and participation in the fundamentals of the democratic process. When you’re not here, you’re somewhere else, gathering news and information – TV, Radio, Paper, Magazine, Conversation.

    You do everything but vote on an issue, you leave that to some suit who you know only represents the Party interest. This is not Democracy, this is bad and unresponsive representation.

    Blockchain technology, if fully deployed across enough of their servers, offers you the ability to help decide.
    As far as I’ve seen so far attempting to get the population to vote on one day is expensive, logistically a huge task and it’s very easy to target in service denial attacks etc.

    If we are to achieve a reliable and accountable democracy then we need to run polls over a longer period, nominally 30 days.
    This gives our society, us, the opportunity to engage when we can, we’re all busy, right?
    If the recent Brexit Poll had been conducted over 30 days with all the drama and the disclosure happening as the vote tallied I believe it would have turned out very differently and Britain would now be re-addressing the relationship with Europe rather than ending it badly.

    Say what you want about the “mob mentality”, here in Australia, your mob is your family. By my reckoning over the last 50 years, in many places, the vast majority of people I’ve met are moral, fair, compassionate, generous human beings. This is not to say we’ve always agreed, but hey, in a vote on an issue, they would have the same one vote as I.

    Democracy is one issue, one vote for every constituent and at the end of the poll the votes are tallied and the majority of the votes cast (50% +1) carries the issue.
    A simple transaction that underwrote the Golden Age of Greece.

    Our democratic right to vote on every issue was surrendered as a franchise to a representative on the day the state grew too large for the forum. Our forum is now reformed, we are engaged and we have both the right and the responsibility to participate in the votes that determine how our lives and those of our children will be lived.

    Seriously, think about it, that we can, collectively, make much better decisions, far more rapidly and with a greater degree of sanity than our current system. We would save billions in wages and entitlements, have a vibrant and responsive society where conversation about real things has both meaning and interest. Things like “What are we going to do about our environment?” or
    “Is fracking really necessary or economic in an age of rapidly expanding and increasingly cost efficient renewable energy?” or
    “Why are we spending something like a $100Bn + on a fighter and submarine program when the nation is hugely in debt and can not afford a non productive investment? (If we wanted to pile on more debt wouldn’t it be better invested in industries that transform our society and create jobs in design, manufacture and generate sales opportunities with world leading renewable energy products?)

    The path to full Democracy starts with local representation and engagement, in Australia there are several contenders Online Direct Democracy, Flux, Pirate Party but to name a very few. The development of these democratic systems has been going on since the advent of the internet. Like every great communication technology that came before it, the internet has been envisioned as aiding us all toward a better and more inclusive Democracy.

    These are all just tools to be used in the trade of information enabling you to engage, when you want, how you want in making a decision that affects us all.

    Democracy, it’s your choice.

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