The Northern Territory Electoral Commission (NTEC) is an independent government agency responsible for the impartial conduct of Northern Territory Legislative Assembly and NT Local Government elections. NTEC was established under the Electoral Act 2004 and has as its main roles the promotion of public awareness of electoral matters, the conduct of electoral research, the administration of political party registration and the administration of financial disclosure by candidates, donors, political entities and political parties.
What was the challenge?
In February 2016, the Northern Territory Government proposed a change to the voting system. Since 2008, a PDA-based system had been in use that allowed searches and mark-off of voters’ names. This solution was proving cumbersome, failing expected efficiency gains. The challenge was to produce a system that matched the following requirements, specified by NTEC:
- A digital solution that enabled searching an elector’s name and marking it off from a certified list
- Automated reconciliation of ballot papers (and barcodes)
- The installation of the applications and data on each individual tablet/notebook
- Wireless network transmission of each mark-off transaction for ‘close to real time’ replication in each unit across all polling places
- Wireless network transmission of final polling place results between a polling place’s Central Unit and the Elections HQ database
- Creation of the Elections HQ database
- An ability to conduct all other necessary Officer In Charge (OIC) functions associated with an OIC return
- Ability to uninstall roll mark-off software post-election and return hardware with the initial configuration as when received
- Continue to perform all local functions e.g. roll look-up and mark-off, if the network drops off or fails
- Resume synchronisation and network reliant functions when network connectivity is restored
- Ballot paper reconciliation and discrepancy display
- Ability to enter multiple flags against an elector record indicating events such as multiple declaration votes issued
A robust solution
eLAPPS (electronic Legislative Assembly Polling Place System) was initially developed by F1 Solutions for Elections ACT. It was used for the first time in the 2012 election and has been used in each election since then.
Following the success of eLAPPS for Elections ACT, F1 Solutions submitted a proposal to NTEC to use eLAPPS for their Legislative Assembly elections.
F1 Solutions also proposed to enhance eLAPPS to implement local government functionality required by NTEC as it carries the responsibility for the election of the Legislative Assembly and local councils.
A robust solution, with a voter-facing unit that continues to operate even when network connectivity is lost.
A user-friendly intuitive way for operators to locate the voter, give instructions, issue the correct ballot paper and mark them off as having voted.
A fast system that shortens voter processing time – during the first four hours of polling day, it is expected that the majority of people would vote.
An accurate system that maintains data integrity.
A scalable system that can cope with increase in size (number of polling sites) and/or volume (number of voters).
The benefits for NTEC
eLAPPS is an innovative solution built using commonly available tools, resulting in a robust, simple and reliable system. eLAPPS transformed the way NTEC manages the voting process, delivering the following benefits:
Figures are automatically transferred to the eTallyroom, eliminating the need for an Officer In Charge to make phone calls to NTEC headquarters. Previously, figures were reported by the OIC then transcribed and manually entered delaying posting of results.
The new active search function and the additional search functionalities of eLAPPS have proven to be extremely efficient in processing electors through a polling place. Reports from eLAPPS after election day showed one particular user processed 925 electors during election day, or approximately one every 40 seconds.
Better polling place management
eLAPPS manages most tasks associated with polling place processes. After polls close, the OIC can easily achieve an accurate count, which leads to timely reporting of final polling place results.
Polling place staff report a far easier, more streamlined process and dramatically less time spent on site by individual voters, meaning less queueing and greater efficiencies.
Reduction in errors and double counts
eLAPPS is designed to reduce the number of multiple votes by transmitting each roll transaction back to a central database, which in turn collates and retransmits them across the network in near real time.
Enhanced communication and data driven insights
eLAPPS enables the automatic capture and central presentation of statistical information, such as the number of voters casting their vote at one time, the means by which they have voted, the number of electors yet to vote, the number of ballot papers remaining at each polling place and much more. The system also allows for enhanced communication, and operational staff at HQ have a data repository of all correspondence.