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Thursday, 26 July 1906

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) - - When we were last' discussing an amendment of the Electoral Act, I supported a proposal submitted to enable parliamentary elections 'to be conducted with the aid of the most improved voting machine that could be obtained. I am prepared now to support this Bill. I certainly fail to understand Senator Mulcahy's argument that the use of these machines might lead to the destruction of the secrecy -of the ballot in particular constituencies. What difference would there be in that respect between the use of a voting machine, and the use of the ordinary ballot box? Under the present system, a number of ballot boxes may be used iri different parts of an electoral division, and when the ballot papers are inspected, it may be found that Brown, Jones, and Smith have each received so many votes. If the electors recording those votes had used a voting machine, it would have recorded exactly the same facts. The use of a voting machine would not in any way interfere with the secrecy of the ballot. The persons who had charge of the voting machine which was submitted for our inspection in this building clearly demonstrated that everything necessary could be done with such a machine to correctly record all the votes cast. It was also demonstrated that the Electoral Officer could as effectively prevent any interference with the operation of the machine as he can at present prevent interference with voters under the existing system. He can seal a ballot box. but he could also seal a voting machine. There is no reason why the votes recorded in such a machine should be visible to an one ; but the officers in charge, and the scrutineers. The point mentioned bv Senator Pearce as to the considerable expense periodically incurred for the printing of ballot papers is worthy of consideration, and if bv the introduction of voting machines we are able to considerably reduce, or entirely avoid, the expense of printing ballot-papers, we should certainly do so. I see no reason why an effort should not be made to use these machines at the earliest opportunity possible. If we continue to resist their introduction we shall, I suppose, as usual, go on from generation to generation, setting our faces against alE progress. This Bill affords us an opportunity to introduce these machines, and weshould take advantage of it.

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