Federal Election 21 August 2010
AEC Releases Report Into Vote Mishandling Errors In The Divisions Of Flynn And Boothby
Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn
Victor P Taffa
The Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn today released a report into the irregular handling of pre-poll votes by electoral officials in the Division of Boothby and the Division of Flynn leading to the exclusion of these votes in final election counting in the 2010 election.
“Let me clearly state at the outset that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is extremely concerned that as the result of the irregularities caused by the actions of polling officials nearly 4,300 voters were disenfranchised by having their votes excluded from the count. That this action was necessary is deeply regretted by the AEC.” Mr. Killesteyn said.
“The AEC unequivocally apologises to all of the affected electors, and is also writing to all candidates concerned. The AEC will be providing further consideration to the issues involved as part of its forthcoming submissions to the Joint Standing Committee into Electoral Matters.”
These incidents were previously the subject of media releases issued by the AEC on 31 August 2010 and 10 September 2010. Mr. Killesteyn advised on 31 August that he had appointed a senior public servant and former Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Bill Gray AM, to examine the incidents and report his findings.
The incidents involved the premature opening of ballot-boxes by electoral officials at the Pre-poll Voting Office at Oaklands Park in South Australia (Division of Boothby) and at Blackwater and Emerald in Queensland (Division of Flynn), leading to the exclusion from the count of 2,977 votes from the Division of Boothby and 1,306 votes from the Division of Flynn. Senate votes were also excluded as result of these actions.
Mr. Killesteyn said that the Commission had accepted the findings and recommendations made in Mr. Gray’s report. The report, available on the AEC website, finds that the mishandled votes were due to apparent polling official error and that no evidence was tendered of any tampering with ballot papers at any of the three pre-poll voting offices.
Mr. Killesteyn added that the report contained recommendations for action that could be taken to minimise the potential for a repeat of these incidents.
The recommendations deal with issues covering the training of polling place officials, placing reminder stickers on ballot-boxes that on no account are they to be opened and the reviewing of practices dealing with the use of security seals. All of Mr. Gray’s recommendations have been accepted by the AEC and will be implemented immediately.
“The Commission has examined the circumstances of the errors and determined that the votes excluded from the count could not have changed the outcome, and therefore the declared successful candidates, for the two House of Representatives divisions, nor the outcome of the Senate elections in South Australia and Queensland.” Mr. Killesteyn said.