Australian Election Commission seeks new solution to digitize Senate ballots
The Australian Election Commission (AEC) has issued a tender for an “end-to-end” digital ballot scanning solution, hoping to have something in place for the 2021/22 elections.
Specifically, the ACS said it needs a solution to digitize all Senate ballots, which includes capturing preferences and metadata, completed in a federal election.
“It is estimated that this will be in the order of 16 million ballots for the 2021/2022 event and will increase by 5 to 10% for each federal election event after that,” he adds in the market notification published this weekend. “Considering the size and complexity of the project and the operational phase, AEC’s preference is to purchase an end-to-end solution.”
The digitization of Senate ballots must be completed no later than 27 calendar days after polling day and the first ballots can be scanned from the Tuesday following polling day. Senate ballots should be processed in the state for which the Senate ballot was returned.
“The process of digitizing Senate ballots will begin once the division completes processing the Senate ballots,” he said. “AEC is open to vendor suggested solutions for the location (s) of the scanning solution in each state and territory.”
As detailed in the contract notification, the successful supplier must design, develop, test, build, implement and support an accurate and secure scanning solution for the AEC to facilitate the counting of Senate ballots for a ballot in accordance with the Commonwealth Election Act 1918.
The solution must be able to process and export the data of approximately 16 million ballots within 27 days of election day.
As part of the end-to-end mandate, the vendor will be responsible for the development and implementation of the solution, including project management, business analysis, design and construction.
The scanning solution, the AEC said, must protect all data when it is at rest and in transit, and meet all security requirements set out by the Australian Cyber Security Center (ACSC).
In 2018, the AEC awarded Fuji Xerox Businessforce a two-year AU $ 27 million contract to provide a ballot scanning system for the upcoming federal election.
The solution was a “very similar” solution to that used for the 2016 federal election, which the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) denounced as lacking in security.
In particular, ANAO said the AEC had abandoned compliance with Australian government IT security frameworks and said insufficient attention had been paid to the security and integrity of data generated during and after the operation, as the focus was on providing a Senate scanning system on Election Day. – 12 weeks before the elections.
AEC Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was satisfied with the risks the AEC accepted before it went into service.
One of the concerns raised with Rogers was that Fuji Xerox Businessforce was awarded the contract not through a public tender, but instead the AEC used an existing standing offer deed with Fuji. Xerox.
During the Senate Estimates in May, Rogers was asked about the process of digitizing ballots.
“The process is that the data is entered manually, and that matches the automated process,” he said. “All the paper is scanned when it comes in, and from that image, which is an image, that data is then entered, and then the data from the scan is then compared to that to make sure it matches. t match, we are undertaking other processes. “
It captures an image, Rogers said, and that image is then presented to the data entry operator, who captures the data from that image.
“At the same time, the process of data capture – as part of capturing the image – is then compared to this manual process. When that matches, it is considered an exact match and is included in the count. do not match, we are undertaking other processes, ”he continued.
The ACS was asked about its position on security in the Senate Estimates previously, after Rogers rejected a proposal to allow a non-government researcher to perform a security audit on its systems.
At the time, he said the AEC works with a range of partners, including the CCAA, and that the agency had its internal code audited and verified to ensure its systems are functioning properly.
The closing date for expressions of interest is August 16, 2021.
See also: Australian Election Commission wants virtual reality but luckily only for education
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) also approached the market this week, seeking to provide a platform for threat intelligence and cyber threat intelligence.
“The procurement must include strategic, operational and tactical cyber threat intelligence products / services to be integrated into the threat intelligence platform provided, in order to enable the ministry to detect and manage threats posed by actors. malicious against the government sector and the ministry itself; enable the department to research, explore and investigate threats and vulnerabilities, including its IP addresses, domains, brands, supply chain or technology stack; and request personalized threat intelligence products on an ad hoc basis, ”he wrote in the RFQ.
For Threat Intelligence Platform, DFAT is looking for a vendor to provide a service, cloud-based or on-premise, for the purpose of ingesting cyber threat intelligence feeds, with the intention of using it. for managing cyber threat intelligence.
The call for tenders ends on August 27, 2021.