Petition organisers have difficulty in the logistics of collecting signatures. They tend to rely on public places such as shopping precincts and events as places to collect signatures. This limits the people organising a petition and those who can sign to individuals who attend such places. In effect there are many people in the community who are prevented from participating in the petition process.
It would be desirable for petitioners to be able to collect signatures electronically so that people can vote either by phone, through the internet or through interactive TV. This would extend the range of people who could organise and who could sign.
It is possible to design an electronic petition system so that the recipients of the petition have confidence that the petitioners are genuine and that each one is unique. To make electronic petitions acceptable there needs to be a way for signatures to be collected reliably and this requires organisations who are regulated to conduct petitions.
Electronic Petitions are technically possible but require a set of procedures and guidelines to ensure Parliament has confidence in the authenticity and validity of the petition and of the person’s signing the petition.
It is suggested that the Parliament does the following.
Register Organisations who wish to provide an electronic petition service. Registration will require the Organisations to offer petition services with a set of minimum characteristics.
The minimum characteristics of a petition system are:
- The organisation providing the infrastructure for electronic petitions be regulated and audited.
The organisation or person initiating the petition be identifiable and contactable.
Each person signing the petition can be identified and can be contacted to verify that they have signed.
A person can only sign a petition once and the system be capable of detecting fraudulent multiple signatures
A record of the petition and the electronic signature be kept for five years and be available for later scrutiny.
The Registered Petition delivery organisation shall conduct random audits to verify the authenticity of electronic signatures and this be available to the Parliament.
The system provide a variety of ways for petitioners to sign including the phone system.
The system shall provide a way for Parliament to contact all petitioners electronically to verify their signatures.