Australia’s auditor general has warned the Australian Electoral Commission it failed to take “meaningful action” and follow a series of recommendations to more securely count votes in the lead-up to the 2013 election. On Wednesday the Australian National Audit Office released its third follow-up audit of the AEC after the 2013 federal election, in which 1,370 Western Australian Senate ballot papers were lost. The Senate election was required to be held again after a high court challenge and the AEC faced heavy criticism at the time. The latest audit found two years on the AEC has still not established procedures to fix a series of failings. The audit disclosed there are now 1.2 million Australians who are eligible to vote but have not been enrolled, and raised concerns over the AEC’s response to the electoral gaps. The report said “some useful work had been undertaken” to manage the electoral role, but there were “significant gaps in implementation action”.
“In addition, no meaningful action had been taken prior to the 2013 election in relation to those recommendations directed towards more secure reporting of election night counts or the development of comprehensive performance standards for the conduct of elections,” the report stated.
The audit also identified an alarming trend surrounding public oversight. It said “transparency of the AEC’s reporting on the accuracy and completeness of the electoral roll had reduced over time”. The AEC’s budget portfolio statements has steadily provided less information about the eligibility of people to enrol. It said a number of recommendations from an audit conducted in 2009/2010 had yet to be implemented, or were only partially implemented.