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From the CEO: E-elections put to a vote

Cite as: July 2014 88 (07) LIJ, p.6

Do you think the LIV should have an online only election system? 

By Michael Brett Young, LIV CEO

The LIV wants to know what members think about online only voting in Council elections from 2014.

The proposal to provide online only voting for Council elections was raised and debated at a Council meeting earlier this year. It was decided to seek wider member feedback before a decision is made in September 2014.

If a majority of members want to transition to a fully online voting system, it will be rolled out for the 2014 Council election at the end of this year and all eligible members will receive ballot/voting materials and cast their vote using the LIV’s existing online mechanism (e-elections).

By way of background, the e-election system has been partially in use at the LIV since 2012. E-elections, as an alternative to the manual ballot system whereby voting materials are sent and returned by post, was endorsed by the membership at the annual general meeting in 2011.

In 2012, Council resolved to introduce the system adopting an opt-in, phased approach that year and in 2013. The response to those early phases was positive, with many users praising the ease and straightforward nature of the system, and there was a solid opt-in rate. Of the total votes received, there was an increase in preference for online voting from 21.57 per cent in 2012 to 23.9 per cent in 2013.

It was expected that the e-elections system would change for the 2014 Council election, subject to approval of Council and in response to amendments to the Constitution approved in 2011.

The time to decide whether the LIV moves away from its current system for Council elections and the dispatch of annual general meeting materials has come and we seek final input from members on this issue.

Do you think the LIV should have an online only elections system or an opt-out function (for members who want paper ballots) system?

A few things for you to consider about the online system:

  • The e-election system integrates with the LIV membership database and maintains the same level of confidentiality, privacy and consistency as the manual paper ballots.
  • Delivery of voting materials is flexible, time-efficient, cost-effective and convenient (especially for rural, interstate and overseas members).
  • It stops inaccuracies on ballot papers and eliminates lost mail.
  • Eliminating paper use supports the LIV’s green objective to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • Increased communications – for example, to explain how online voting works.
  • It provides the opportunity for members to update other membership details.
  • No change to the LIV constitution is required to effect either proposed change to the election process. It is up to the Council to determine the manner in which the ballot is sent to members.

Considering all these factors, it is timely and reasonable to encourage greater participation, ideally through a mandatory online voting system for all members, or by requiring members to opt-out of an electronic system if they wish to use a paper ballot. The latter would see much of the expense of the current system maintained and there would be duplication of efforts.

The LIV takes its governance structure and election processes seriously. A simple, efficient voting mechanism is the goal. I urge you to have your say on this issue. Would an online voting system meet your needs? Does it maintain best practice in governance? Please contact LIV Council secretary Jody Culey on councilsecretary@liv.asn.au and let us know your thoughts.

We will look forward to hearing from you.

The LIV one-day criminal law conference is on 25 July at Rydges Melbourne and it’s one not to miss, from the first session to the last.

The conference brings together those with an interest in updating and expanding their knowledge in criminal law and features targeted and comprehensive sessions presented by experts in the field.

The keynote presentation – the role of instructing solicitors in criminal proceedings – will be given by Justice Terry Forrest of the Supreme Court of Victoria and subsequent sessions will examine key issues around sentencing, prisons and parole.

Justice Bill Gillard QC, recently appointed the first full-time chair of the Adult Parole Board, will discuss parole.

The CEO of the Sentencing Advisory Council Cynthia Marwood will examine sentencing in light of recent legislative developments and court decisions.

The Victorian Ombudsman’s director of investigations Glenn Sullivan will report on a recent investigation into deaths and harm in custody and Corrections Victoria Offender Management Division deputy commissioner Andrew Reaper will present on rehabilitation of prisoners and support for their transition from prison.

Forensicare director of psychological services Professor James Ogloff will talk about the mental health of prisoners, and the use of technology in criminal legal practice will be addressed by barrister Kyle McDonald.

Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser and barrister Sarala Fitzgerald will examine human rights in Victoria’s criminal justice system. LIV acting ethics manager Michael Dolan will run an interactive session on criminal law ethics.

I think you’ll agree there’s something for everybody in the field, hope to see you there.

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