The Australian Electoral Commission has ordered a suite of changes prior to the re-run of the WA Senate election, including increased tracking of ballot papers and a ban on recycling at polling centres. Acting Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers told Parliament’s electoral matters committee on Wednesday that the debacle over the loss of 1370 ballots “is certainly the worst period in our history”. Mr Rogers said the AEC had made several changes in response to an investigation by former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty and those changes would be in place for the fresh WA Senate election on April 5. Mr Keelty’s investigation identified numerous breakdowns in the handling and storage of ballots and he has said “poor leadership” contributed to the “disastrous result” that has forced Western Australians back to the polls. It has been estimated that the Senate re-vote in WA will cost $20 million.
Mr Rogers said at Wednesday’s hearing that the AEC had improved its handling process.
“We’ve introduced better labelling and tamper evident labelling and packaging to enhance that materials management process,” he said.
Mr Rogers said new security directions had been issued for polling places “to remind them of their duties” and staff were completing new training before April 5.
The acting commissioner said the AEC would document and track the movements of ballot papers more than ever before to establish a “chain of custody” each time a ballot paper changed hands.