The Australian Electoral Commission will outsource the storage of millions of used ballot papers, conceding its warehouse security and logistics chain is not up to task. The AEC has been forced to overhaul its processes after bungling the 2013 Senate election in Western Australia in which nearly 1400 voting papers were lost, causing the High Court to order a new poll at a cost of $23 million. Former Australia Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty called the AEC’s handling of the election a “disaster” and the-then electoral commissioner Ed Killesteyn later resigned. On Wednesday, new commissioner Tom Rogers told a parliamentary committee that the AEC would “completely outsource” its warehouse and logistics, including the transport of ballot papers to 8000 polling stations. “Frankly, we don’t do it very well,” he told the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.
The public spends about $1 million for each federal election storing Senate ballot papers for a full six-year term and House of Representatives ballot papers for six months. Each election produces 1100 pallets of ballots.
“Private logistics providers have very impressive security systems in place, far beyond what we will be able to do in any case,” he said.
The AEC had originally pledged to install CCTV and alarms in its own warehouses in each state after Mr Keelty’s review found the WA warehouse had minimal security and its roller door had been routinely left open to allow those working inside some fresh air.