Australia: Missing votes a rare event in Australian Electoral Commission history | Sydney Morning Herald

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.

Australia: Voters in Australian state could go back to polls after almost 1,400 Senate ballots lost | ABC

Almost 1,400 Senate ballots cast at September federal elections are missing, and voters may have to return to the polls soon for two seats that have ramifications for the conservative government’s ability to pass its legislative agenda. The Australian Electoral Commission is set to declare the Senate vote as early as Monday next week despite the missing votes. Disgruntled candidates can then appeal to the High Court, which can order a new Senate election in Western Australia state. AEC spokesman Phil Diak said it was unlikely the ballots would ever be found. “The AEC has been searching exhaustively and that includes all premises where the Senate votes were stored,” Diak told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio on Friday. The missing ballots account for only one in 1,000 in a state where 1.3 million people voted at the last election.

Australia: Palmer claims Electoral Commission ‘rigging’ recount | Brisbane Times

Clive Palmer believes the Australian Electoral Commission will “rig” the Fairfax recount and deliver victory to his LNP opponent. Mr Palmer says he’s odds on to lose the contest with the LNP’s Ted O’Brien, despite finishing ahead in two previous counts. “I think in the end Ted O’Brien will win because the AEC will put him there,” Mr Palmer said on Friday. “I’ve said that while I’ve been leading all along because the system is very corrupt. Mr Palmer originally finished with 36 more votes than Mr O’Brien. His lead was whittled down to a mere seven votes after a full redistribution of preferences. The AEC is now conducting a full recount which isn’t likely to wind-up for at least another week.

Australia: Ballot challenges hamper Fairfax recount | ABC

A final election result for the seat of Fairfax is still undecided, with an extremely high number of challenges to ballot papers delaying the recount of the Sunshine Coast seat. Queensland businessman and Palmer United Party (PUP) leader Clive Palmer was ahead of the LNP’s Ted O’Brien by just seven votes in the initial count, automatically triggering a recount that started last week. AEC spokesperson Phil Diak told the ABC’s Karyn Wood that although it’s unknown when the recount will be finalised, the AEC is focused and wants to get the job done.

Australia: Clive Palmer three votes ahead as Australian Electoral Commission recounts votes | ABC News

Billionaire businessman Clive Palmer leads the LNP’s Ted O’Brien by just three votes in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax. A recount of preferences is underway after an initial count put Mr Palmer 36 votes ahead of Mr O’Brien. On Monday morning Mr Palmer was 42 votes ahead, but by the evening the mining magnate’s lead had narrowed to three votes. As the painstaking count continues, tensions are rising. Last week the Australian Electoral Commission flew in its chief legal officer to deal with an unusually high number of challenges on the validity of ballot papers. The Palmer United Party, which may also hold the balance of power in the Senate, has four lawyers and the LNP has one. Palmer’s scrutineers are being delivered gourmet lunches from the billionaire’s luxury Coolum resort, while Mr O’Brien’s team gets the rare sandwich or roll.

Australia: Electoral chief cautious about online voting | Sydney Morning Herald

The replacement of paper-and-pencil voting with an electronic system could see Australians lose confidence in the poll results, the electoral chief has warned. Australian Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn defended the system’s reliability following attacks from election hopeful Clive Palmer, who portrayed himself as a victim of ”rigged” results and the AEC as a military-infiltrated ”national disgrace”. Despite the conspiracy claims, Mr Palmer extended his lead over his Liberal National Party rival to 111 votes on Friday, with the final counting of outstanding votes in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax expected on Saturday. The Palmer United Party founder and wealthy Queensland businessman reacted angrily to the discovery of 750 votes tallied against the wrong pre-poll location mid-way through the count. In an earlier mistake, officials noticed 1000 votes for Victorian independent Cathy McGowan had not been recorded correctly, pushing the seat of Indi further out of reach of former Coalition frontbencher Sophie Mirabella, who subsequently conceded defeat this week. Mr Killesteyn said computer-based voting would eliminate these kinds of ”human errors” but the benefits would have to be weighed against hacking and manipulation fears.

Australia: Palmer calls for fresh election in Fairfax | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Businessman and political aspirant Clive Palmer has demanded a new election in the federal seat of Fairfax on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. His lead over the LNP’s Ted O’Brien in Fairfax has narrowed to only 209 votes, with about 88 per cent of ballot papers counted. Mr Palmer, who founded the Palmer United Party (PUP), says the election is rigged and the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is a national disgrace. He says 768 pre-poll votes from one booth went missing from the voting centre at Coolum Beach, and later turned up at Buderim. On Monday afternoon, the AEC released a statement saying the sorting error makes no difference to the count overall, and it remains confident in the integrity of its processes. However, the Federal Court says the AEC’s media release on Monday suggested there was a reserved judgment.  The court says today Justice Dowsett indicated he would reserve the question of costs in respect of Monday’s hearing, but otherwise Mr Palmer’s application was denied.