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Advanced Voting Technology to Speed-up Federal Parliament

The bells will still toll, but it'll be a lot quicker!

''The ayes will pass to the right of the chair and the no's to the left - oh wait, don't bother'

Since the first sitting of the House of Representatives a vote or 'division' in the Chamber required the bells to be rung for four minutes. Wherever they are in the Parliament, Members have four minutes to stop what they're doing and make it to the Chamber. 'Lock the doors!' cries the Speaker bang on four minutes.

The Speaker advises Members of the subject of the vote and the House then divides '“ literally '“ with those voting 'yes' moving to one side and those voting 'no' moving to the other. The Speaker then asks four appointed MPs from the Government and Opposition to count the votes by counting heads.

It's traditional. It's time consuming. It's old.

And it's all about to change.

This week, the Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne announced that from next year, the House of Representatives will upgrade to electronic voting, where Members vote yes or no with the push of a button.

''The implementation of electronic voting will reduce significantly the time required for each vote in the Chamber,' Minister Pyne said.

And he's not wrong as contentious pieces of legislation or controversial motions, such as censure motions, often require the House to divide multiple times, requiring more bells, more moving across the floor and more counting heads.

An electronic system will allow votes to be cast and counted almost instantaneously, with the potential to halve the time the House of Reps takes to push through its daily agenda.

Interestingly, Australia has only just caught up to a voting technology that has existed around the world for some time. In 2016, the World e-Parliament Report showed that 67 percent of the surveyed parliaments used some form of IT system to support voting.

'Crossing the floor' will become metaphorical with a Member unhappy with their own side's stance able to express his or her displeasure with the push of a button. It does lack the drama that often accompanies Members crossing the floor, however the time saved will definitely speed up the parliamentary process.

The move to electronic voting in the House of Reps is good news advocates as it will result in relevant issues that require action by the Parliament being resolved more quickly.

It's a great example of how technology can be leveraged to streamline processes to reach an objective more quickly; in this case, running the country.

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