The AEC must ensure fair elections

The AEC have been caught asleep at the wheel on multiple voting. 

Watch the AEC squirm as they are caught out failing to acknowledge that multiple voting can change the outcome of an election when drilled down by electorate. 

At a National level, multiple voting mightn’t sound like much but when broken down by electorate it can change the outcome as was the case in the electorate of Herbert in 2016 where the sitting member lost by 37 votes, yet there were 50 multiple votes. 

The AEC should not be gaslighting the issue. They need to report multiple votes by electorate.

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee
Australian Electoral Commission

Senator RENNICK: Last time I spoke to you I asked about how you report data on multiple votes, and you didn’t really give me an answer. I had a look at your annual reports, but I didn’t actually see a detailed breakdown of multiple votes by electorate. The reason I bring this up again is that I’ve had a constituent come to me who asked you for a list of multiple votes in the 2016 election, and you came back with the breakdown of multiple votes, and it turns out that in the federal electorate of Herbert there were 50 multiple votes. Yet Ewen Jones, who was the member at the time, lost by only 37 votes. What commitment can the AEC give that it’s going to speed up reporting on multiple votes, or people who vote more than once? And, in particular, can you commit to doing it within the 40-day time frame which, as per sections 355 and 357 of the AEC Act, you have to lodge any complaints?

Mr Rogers : First of all, I did give you a response last time. You may not have been happy with the response, but I absolutely gave you a response, and I also told you that we publish that data, as I mentioned, in our annual report process. We—

Senator RENNICK: I didn’t see that broken down by electorate. I saw a total number, but I didn’t see an electorate number.

Mr Rogers : From memory, that wasn’t the question you asked. You asked about the data for multiple voting.

Senator RENNICK: Right.

Mr Rogers : And if I might go back to Herbert, in 2016—and I’m just going off memory here, and that’s one electorate out of many—we involved the AFP in that process in Herbert. Again, you’re asking about an individual electorate. If I get this wrong, it’s just that we will need to clean up the data.

Senator RENNICK: Sure.

Mr Rogers : They gave us a commitment to provide more investigators for that one event than they’d ever done previously. I think they sent, from memory, something like 12 AFP investigators to Herbert and knocked on doors. As is always the case, there are a whole range of reasons why the data may not have been reflective of what actually occurred on the ground, and from memory—

Senator RENNICK: That is fine. That is done now. What I want to know is, going forward, can you commit to having a more timely process of reporting duplicate voters by electorate within the 40-day time frame? Because in some of these very close calls—

Mr Rogers : We have given a commitment previously. As we have said before, if ever the level of multiple voting reached the level that we thought it put the soundness of the result in jeopardy, we would immediately refer that to the court of disputed returns. I have been a record as saying previously that the issue of multiple voters in Australia is vanishingly small, generally something like—

Senator RENNICK: I accept that. In some cases, it will only be one or two—

Mr Rogers : And if that were ever the case, we would immediately take action. You raised one issue in Herbert. As I said, with Herbert, we had an unprecedented response and a swift response involving us and the AFP, because it is not just us involved in this process; it is also the Australian Federal Police. The process in Herbert worked very well; we were quick. If I got the number of investigators wrong, it was many, and we did it as quickly as we possibly could, so we are always on that. Of course, I will give a commitment that we will move as quickly as we possibly can; we always do.

Senator RENNICK: I still want to come back. On account that we have to do monthly reporting, sometimes even weekly reporting, depending on what it was, because we need to do benchmarking. The old saying is that what gets measured gets improved. Will you commit to reporting on multiple votes by electorate? You said last time I think you had half the machines record people who vote electronically.

Mr Rogers : I’m happy to do that. I have a feeling we have actually reported that, even to the joint standing committee. I will have to think about that. We might have already done it. I will give you that commitment because I think we are already doing it.

Senator RENNICK: I have got a how to enrol form here. There are three ways to enrol: you can provide either your drivers licence, passport, or you can get someone who is on the electoral roll to confirm your identity. I am working off the death rate here. We have about 160,000 to 170,000 deaths a year, and I assume we have a few more people that enrol every year. How do you go about checking the identity of the person that signs the other person in?

Mr Rogers : Well, actually, you are missing one. You can use a Medicare card as well. You might be using an old form.

Senator RENNICK: It might be an old form.

Mr Rogers : We do a whole range of checks. The person who is attesting to you needs to be on the roll. We have the detail of that individual on the roll. We check that detail before we put the other person on the roll.

Senator RENNICK: Okay, no worries. How do you go about scanning the number of people who live at each address? How do you sort them?

Mr Rogers : Each transaction is looked at individually. We make sure that the individual who is applying to be on the roll is qualified to be on the roll, using one of the metrics said before. If they are, we put them on the roll. I do note there are a number of large families. There are situations where people live in share houses and in a whole range of other domestic circumstances where there may be a number of people in one address. Obviously, if it looks like there is a large number of people in one address, we will take action accordingly.

Senator RENNICK: Thanks, Chair.








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