Commentary on Technology in 2013 Federal Election

The New Year is upon us and it heralds the start of a year in which a federal election will be called. Many are calling for an early election while many others are calling for the 43rd Parliament to go the full distance. There is no doubt that I am one of those that prefers to see the Parliament go the full distance and run its course before the Australian people head to the polls.

One of the exciting aspects for this year’s federal election, whenever it is called, will be the part that technology plays in federal election campaign; both the build-up and the campaign proper.

The shift in how people are accessing the internet and using social media will see a similar shift in how content is delivered in the federal election. Of course the shift I’m talking about is the increasing use of mobile devices to access the internet and social media; including to text and call friends.

Political parties might seem like archaic and antiquated organisations but they are sophisticated and look for anyway of gaining an electoral advantage. Given the explosion in the use of mobile devices to access social networking sites, watch videos, catch up on news and stay connected, political parties will definitely be delivering content designed for mobile devices. It will be interesting to see if political parties will ensure they have accessible mobile sites rather than solely concentrate on ‘apps’.
This is important as apps can be limiting and more likely to only be used by the ‘true-believers’ in respective parties. Mobile sites offer in many ways more flexibility for content to be delivered without creating a ridiculously large app to download. Though there are some very real advantages to using apps.

However in my opinion the more important thing to watch will be the consolidation of the various technologies to take advantage of data-driven voter engagement.

This might be a bit of pipe-dream at the moment as most organisations are constantly looking for the latest & greatest new social media tool. Rather it would be excellent to see organisations campaigning in the year’s federal election using the plethora of amazing online and social media tools that already exist to boost their campaigns and improve engagement with supporters and voters.

2013’s federal election campaign will see the most sophisticated use of voter data ever. It might not be done very well or produce the results Australian Obama fans are looking for but this year’s federal election will see the most sophisticated use of voter data to engage and connect with voters on more personal levels rather than the usual robotic method used.

Unfortunately I doubt that these things will be fully realised. While there is evidence to suggest that political parties and strategy-driven NGOs are moving to improved mobile sites and apps; using existing technology in a more coordinated fashion and using more data to connect with supporters and members, given the experience of 2012 I see there will be little change in how technology will be used.

Rather than using it to reach out in intelligent ways to voters, the technology will be largely used to promote television and radio commercials with little integration with the rest of the campaign. No doubt there will be the usual Flash-games and make-your-own banner/poster options and a range of ‘viral’ videos that will only be seen by the most dedicated members and supporters. And there will be the usual attacks and counter-attacks.

Of course there will be the usual rise in fake social media accounts to troll others and relentlessly repeat campaign messages, stupidly watering down the willingness of interested people to get more involved.

However, I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

29 comments on “Commentary on Technology in 2013 Federal Election

  1. This election will be fought in the , 1: facebook 2: twitter 3: Blogashere.
    The NSW Liberal party already have an android app. I suspect the most widely used app will be mobile wordpress. My prediction is the ABC will be “the” hotbed as it is by far the most sophisticated media entity in terms of infrastructure and bandwidth, way ahead of every other player.

    If you thought the trolls are bad now, wait for the campaign footing, both sides are gearing up big time.

  2. I still will not use the ACT Election’s electronic voting system, pen to paper for me. The only fool proof system, except some times too many fools vote noalition if the Democrats had not split their preferences years back Margaret Reid would have been gone and another Senate seat lost to Howard what chance workchoices then.

  3. Bilko..Pen to Paper all the way. As a former white hat, I do not trust electronic voting, way too easy to hack. Believe me, lots of digital acquaintances see it as a great challenge to their skills. Love scrutineering. That is one part of election day where bipartisan political process commands mutual respect for those who are truly involved in democracy. Made a lot of friends across the divide in poling booths.

  4. Thanks for the comments Ricky and Bilko.

    Ricky I think you’re right about where the election will be fought and judging by recent state elections I have no doubt the trolling is going to get a lot worse come the federal election being announced.

  5. It seems that [url=http://www.aec.gov.au/voting/electronic-voting.htm]electronic voting[/url] is being canvassed for Oz.

    A possible template from Germany?

    Germany ruled that the public must be able to see and authenticate every essential step of the election, without need for special expertise, and that no after the fact procedure can be substituted for the right to authenticate the original count.

    That is exactly the model we here in the USA need to work towards, but first, we have to help the public understand that public controls over our own elections are the very essence of self-government, and self-government is the basis for all democratic systems.

    There are four things the public must be able to see and authenticate:
    1) Who can vote (voter list)
    2) Who did vote (poll list)
    3) Counting of the vote
    4) Chain of custody

    National)11/2012 – OF DIVERSIONS, FABRICATIONS, AND RED HERRINGS

    Given the ease and reality of electoral fraud in the US, seems to me that any such steps should be resisted as a “general” approach to voting, although exceptional circumstances are probably justifiable for some groups.

  6. Lost a comment ❓
    Given that electronic voting is being trialled by the AEC,
    and the record of vote tampering in recent US elections, I’m another one for pen and paper voting

    …..controls over our own elections are the very essence of self-government, and self-government is the basis for all democratic systems.

    There are four things the public must be able to see and authenticate:
    1) Who can vote (voter list)
    2) Who did vote (poll list)
    3) Counting of the vote
    4) Chain of custody

    These are the fundamental issues,……

    (National)11/2012 – OF DIVERSIONS, FABRICATIONS, AND RED HERRINGS

  7. Pterosaur1,Alex & Ricky great minds think alike I still remember a MI plot which rigged an electronic election now don’t go thinking I am paranoid but it does help to have a clear head

  8. Talk about faking it – when you can issue a dud press release purporting to be the
    ANZ Bank withdrawing a $1.2B line of credit and
    -cause the share price to drop 9% wiping $300m off company value
    -have company shares suspended by ASX
    -last about 4 hours before correction and relisting
    One hopes their are checks and balances in place for the Election.

  9. Pterosaur, there has been some speculation/debate in the Migs’ household about this issue. Are we all wishful thinkers that the polls all have it wrong….

  10. I’ll stick with the hard copy at this stage. It’s simple and provides an ‘audit trail’ which can only be erased with obvious, deliberate intent. Such ‘trails’ are very important in States such as QLD whose leader seems intent on redefining ‘democracy’ to his own advantage.

    BTW I watched a very interesting discussion on the ‘future’ re the media on APAC today.

  11. Min the present polls exclude a considerable % of the people who solely use mobiles they include the young who predominantly do not vote lieberal a couple of points there plus the % swing to the incumbent and we are home and hose. Hope Migs home and well.

  12. Is there any reason why one cannot have pen and paper, that is recorded electronically.

    As for the trolls, we have become very adept at handling them. Do not seem to see so much astroturfing now.

    Just a reminder of what they are.

    Astroturfing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AstroturfingAstroturfing refers to political, advertising or public relations campaigns that are designed to mask the sponsors of the message to give the appearance of …
    History of astroturfing – Law and policy – Debate – Techniques
    Astroturfing corporate trolls are the new spam
    http://www.smh.com.au › Digital Life › Computers › Gadgets on the go27 Mar 2012 – These astroturfing trolls are actually attempting to come across as the voice of reason and undermine the credibility of those who oppose them.
    Astroturfing: what is it and why does it matter? | Adam Bienkov …
    http://www.guardian.co.uk › Comment is free › Decoding the news8 Feb 2012 – Adam Bienkov: Decoding the news: Creating the illusion of widespread support for a policy used to take place in papers – now it’s online and …
    Astroturf – SourceWatch
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/AstroturfAstroturf refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade …
    astroturfing
    http://www.catb.org/jargon/html/A/astroturfing.htmlastroturfing: n. 1. The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement, through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant ‘concerned …
    Twitter / Search – #astroturfing
    https://twitter.com/search?q=%23astroturfingThe latest and best tweets on #astroturfing. Read what people are saying and join the conversation.
    From sock puppets to astroturfing: the language of online deception …
    blog.oxforddictionaries.com › OxfordWords blog14 Sep 2012 – Who am I? It?s a question I often ask myself when waking up. This isn?t (to my knowledge) because I?m trapped in a high-concept thriller when …
    Astroturfing — Definition of Astroturfing
    usconservatives.about.com › … › Conservatism 101 › Glossary TermsDefinition: Astroturfing is a political term that describes a type of campaign that can be via public relations, television, radio, Internet or political demonstrations, …
    Astroturfing – Breakfast – ABC Radio National (Australian …
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/…/astroturfing/358669016 Sep 2011 – This process of generating fake feedback is called ‘astroturfing’ — designing PR strategies to look like real grassroots movements.
    astroturfing – Wiktionary
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/astroturfingFrom AstroTurf (“a synthetic substitute for grass”), as wordplay on “grass roots”, as if “fake grass roots”. Attributed to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen in an unidentified …

  13. Would not one expect that. Whether it is voting, medical or anything else. We expect it with the present system.

  14. VOYAGER – S y d n e y
    January 8, 2013 @ 6:35 pm
    Talk about faking it – when you can issue a dud press release purporting to be the
    ANZ Bank withdrawing a $1.2B line of credit and
    -cause the share price to drop 9% wiping $300m off company value
    -have company shares suspended by ASX
    -last about 4 hours before correction and relisting
    One hopes their are checks and balances in place for the Election.

    That was more a case of sending a forged email to a very greedy market rather than hacking making it obvious that the ASX and ANZ had no system in place. I do not advocate such behaviour however it could not happen to a nicer bloke IMHO. Nathan Tinker is a criminal conman with an empire built on dodgy credit facilitated by overvaluation like bond, spurred on by Ritcho lobbying for him.
    Not as complicated as hacking the email account that controls this blog and “owning” it or dropping the EAC websites with DNS attacks, with readily available tools.
    (this is a fave of Anonymous)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low_Orbit_Ion_Cannon

    I see your point though; where there is a will I can assure you there is a way. Nothing is hack proof, nothing. This should be of great concern to people when the idea is sold as “safe” “secure” “unhackable” there is simply no such thing. This is especially true as the equipment is made or supplied by private industry. Every link in the supply chain weakens the security of the system.

    Cu, astroturfing is a sophisticated industry. You can buy astroturfing commercially as you can buy DNS attack commercially. Just pay and your off.
    Its pretty low scale here but this may change during the election.
    Those indian call centres do more than answer Un Australian companies who outsource customer service. They were the source of the “Microsoft service scam” and geared up for large scale astroturfing.

    Catching up
    January 9, 2013 @ 8:59 am
    Would not one expect that. Whether it is voting, medical or anything else. We expect it with the present system.

    Expect Yes
    Receive Absolutely Not

    Like locks on a house they only keep the small crims out. I reiterate Nothing is digitally secure, everything is fallible. Combine that with motive, enticement, faux glory, greed or just plain challenge and were off and racing. Electronic voting is a very risky premise for nothing more than lazy convenience which is what people with an agenda embrace. Call that paranoid, conspiracy theory, big brother or anything you like “the more unbelievable it seems, the more plausible it becomes”

    I think that the “youth vote” will “need” the app. Anything that detracts their attention away from the smart phone screen for more than 5 milliseconds is considered an irreverent distraction to their digital life. To engage, one must become attached to their digital interface, to effectively interface.
    “The revolution now languishes digitally on Facebook after it was proclaimed on twitter”

  15. So I am not paranoid then, the majority of us have grave concerns over electronic voting, no chads to worry about here yet then.

  16. VOYAGER – S y d n e y
    January 9, 2013 @ 1:46 pm
    Mark this day down 8/1/13.
    First time I actually agree with what Ricky says.
    Maybe 2013 will be a good year.

    I’m sure we agree on lots of things, especially the truth. 😉

    Bilko
    January 9, 2013 @ 1:57 pm
    So I am not paranoid then, the majority of us have grave concerns over electronic voting, no chads to worry about here yet then.

    The thing about a scribe on a bit of paper is it is one more level in the thought process. Kids hardly ever use pencils anymore unless their tagging on my front wall (poor attempt at youth humor sorry kiddies 🙄 ) Then it gets counted in front of 3 witnesses’ (hopefully) then sealed and sent. The only weak part is the data entry and that can be tallied to a physical hard copy. Compulsory paper voting with ID presented is my preferred system. Marked off the electoral roll or registered with ID at the polling booth.

  17. It has been good reading all of the above comments. As an older person still trying to keep up with new technology which I love, I will still put pen to paper when I vote. Seeing what can happen in the US with electronic voting has made me very wary of how elections can be manipulated.
    Political parties wanting to make sure that the young ones vote should start to hit the mobiles with messages like ‘Have you registered to Vote’, Make sure you register to vote’, ‘You can make a difference if you vote’ or words to that effect and start now. The mobile users might get sick of getting messages, but the drip feed can work. You get to hate that drip feed, but it sticks in your brain – a little like the ads. on TV.

  18. I too have grave reservations about electronic voting, but my gravest reservations are if the LNP have anything to do with any voting system either digital or analog.

    Howard did his best to fudge the system, and now Newman is having a go. 👿

    You wouldn’t trust them to organise a piss up in a brewery. 😯

    Their hidden agenda is what is really scary, and their un-spoken mantra of “every man woman and child for themselves” with a disclaimer “unless you’re rich!” 👿 👿 👿 👿

    Cheers

  19. SENIOR Liberals are pushing for changes to electoral laws that they believe would damage Labor and the Greens at the ballot box.

    Influential party figures want to move to optional preferential voting if they win this year’s election. They believe that if electors do not have to allocate preferences, old-school Labor true believers and many Greens supporters would simply put a “one” next to their preferred party, denying the other party the benefits of preference flows.

    Those pushing the plan say Howard government ministers blundered by calling for voluntary voting. Instead, they say optional preferential voting would be easy to sell as a more democratic halfway house between the current arrangements and voluntary voting, with electors still compelled to cast a ballot but not forced to pass preferences on to candidates they may not support.

    Opposition electoral affairs spokeswoman Bronwyn Bishop said she backed the move, calling it fairer than the compulsory preferential system, where voters are required to put a number next to every candidate to lodge a valid vote.

    ABC elections analyst Antony Green said the Coalition “probably” would have won the last federal election under such a system.

    But the push for optional preferential voting is likely to meet with fierce resistance from sections of the Nationals, with Senate leader Barnaby Joyce saying he supports the status quo………………….

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/liberals-push-voting-changes-as-bronwyn-bishop-supports-shift-to-optional-preferential-system/story-fn59niix-1226550754365

  20. ……………….ABC elections analyst Antony Green said the Coalition “probably” would have won the last federal election under such a system.

    But the push for optional preferential voting is likely to meet with fierce resistance from sections of the Nationals, with Senate leader Barnaby Joyce saying he supports the status quo.

    News of the push comes just days after Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie flagged voluntary voting in a discussion paper on electoral reform.

    In the wake of its release, Julia Gillard accused the Liberal Party of trying to make democracy “the plaything of cashed-up interest groups”.

    Wayne Swan, a Queenslander, attacked the suggestion as a “Joh era-style proposal”, accusing the Liberal National Party state government of “trying to stop people from exercising their democratic rights”.

    Liberals believe the ALP could not mount a similar attack on optional preferential voting because Labor governments introduced the system for state elections in NSW in the 1980s and in Queensland the following decade……………

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/liberals-push-voting-changes-as-bronwyn-bishop-supports-shift-to-optional-preferential-system/story-fn59niix-1226550754365

    Was polled on these questions today. I do not know who for.

    In the last state election in Queensland, most did not mark preference. When one thinks about this, It literally becomes fist past the post, which is the most undemocratic of all.

    Labor was wrong, in my opinion to go down this track in the states.

  21. For once this man is talking sense. What I would like to see change, is the number one has to give preference to, when there are huge numbers of names on the paper. Maybe the first ten is enough.

    ….Senator Joyce cautioned against changing the electoral system. The 2008 merger of the Liberals and Nationals in his home state of Queensland was sold to party members as a way to avoid damaging and distracting clashes between the Coalition members. Since then, a new challenge has emerged in what many former Nationals see as their turf from maverick Bob Katter’s Australian Party.

    “Optional preferential voting is something in the eye of the beholder,” Senator Joyce said. “Everybody loves it when they are the only party on their side of the political fence. Everybody hates it when they have to share the limelight with somebody else. I prefer compulsory preferential.”

    ….http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/liberals-push-voting-changes-as-bronwyn-bishop-supports-shift-to-optional-preferential-system/story-fn59niix-1226550754365

  22. Ricky, that surprises me not one little bit.. To me a giveaway is how far the Libs are supposedly ahead, that they at times give an appearance of panic especially where the female vote is concerned. A question to be ask is that IF Tony is so far ahead and very likely to become our next PM then WHY are they so concerned that Tony is unpopular? Heaven help us..Tony has always been unpopular (and with good reason, I might add).

    Therefore: Why as a response to Tony’s unpopularity do they trot out various females to say what a you’beaut fella he is? Why should Tony’s popularity even be an issue when they are supposedly so far ahead in the polls? Could it be that those who know, do know that the polls are no longer a reflection of true voting intentions?

  23. ……..You can’t remove self-interest from the debate over voting laws, writes Mungo MacCallum. If reform suits you, it’s visionary; if not, it’s a crime against humanity.
    So now we know what it was really all about. Having floated the idea of voluntary voting but having it dismissed as far too radical, the Liberals are getting down to the nitty gritty.
    Well, if voluntary voting is off the table, what about optional preferential voting? Surely that’s a fair and reasonable compromise?
    This, of course, is precisely the tactic of the militant trade unions the Libs affect to despise: start with an ambit claim, an agenda far too extravagant to be taken seriously. And then, once negotiations are under way, get down to what you really want……………………

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4463770.html

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