21 Sep 2023

Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has introduced the Electoral Amendment (Voter ID and Electronic Mark Off) Bill 2023 which he says will guard against voter fraud.

With NSW Electoral Commission acknowledging that more than 2000 people may have attended multiple polling places at the 2019 State Election, Mr Ward has said his bill is about safeguarding democracy. 

“We know voter fraud occurs, but opponents of reform claim the problem is so small it’s not worth bothering about right through to obtuse arguments that claim that guarding against voter fraud would somehow disadvantage vulnerable communities,” Mr Ward said. 

“These arguments are either flippant, show scant regard for the right to vote or are predicated on old fashioned arguments and views. 

“The arguments in favour of this bill are no different from the arguments in favour of CCTV. We use CCTV to deter crime, to capture evidence when crime occurs and to prosecute those who break the law. 

“This bill has two very simple propositions. First, the bill lists a series of identification documents that could be shown to a polling official to prove your identity before being issued with a ballot paper. 

“Second, the bill would require the electoral commission to generate an electronic roll which would be interconnected to polling booths ensuring that once a person has voted and marked off the roll, a person seeking to vote a second time would raise a red flag. 

“In the event of any confusion, the existing legislation provides for a declaration vote which means a person could cast their ballot and the NSW Electoral Commission could investigate. 

“One voter voting more than once is one too many, and these modest amendments speak directly to the objects of my bill which is about ensuring the electoral system in NSW is characterised by accessibility, integrity and fairness. 

These are very humble and basic amendments for a State that should consider itself a leader in technology, entrepreneurship, digital governance, and democracy.  We say we are innovators and leaders, but we are laggards when it comes to voting day,” Mr Ward concluded.