This year’s election hasn’t been a great one for the Australian Electoral Commission. First, there were reports of ”missing” ballots in the seat of Indi. Then Clive Palmer has remained a vocal critic and made frequent attacks questioning the AEC’s integrity. Finally, last week came the revelation that 1375 votes have gone missing from the West Australian Senate recount. The first two events are less substantive. In the case of Indi, the ”missing” ballots were never missing. There was a transcription error that made it appear the ballots were missing when they never were. In the case of Palmer, the rhetoric about the AEC ”rigging” elections is unsubstantiated and so contrary to what we know about the AEC and how it operates, that I don’t know of a single political scientist or an official or politician from either major party who supports that allegation. And the major parties have long histories of witnessing how the AEC and its predecessors operate.
The Liberal Party has nearly 70 years’ experience of elections and Labor has more than 120 years’ experience, so has watched the AEC manage elections since it began as a branch of the Department of Home Affairs in 1902. But the third incident, the WA missing ballots, is a serious matter and the AEC has taken it very seriously and called an independent investigation to be led by former federal police commissioner Mick Keelty.
There hasn’t been a Senate recount for 33 years and there’s no record of anything like the WA missing ballots happening before. This is pretty remarkable given the many elections, referendums and byelections the AEC has conducted and the incredible logistical exercise it conducts every three years for a federal election. It had more time than usual to prepare this year but normally the AEC has only about a month’s notice to organise a one-day event, for which it has to contract, train and manage 70,000 casual employees.
Full Article: Missing votes a rare event in AEC’s history.