Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tully's up and Tally goes astray

Chief Electoral Commissioner oversees Victoria's biggest electoral management stuff up and avoids accountability

Steve Tully, Victoria's Chief Electoral Commissioner in a article published in the Age Newspaper seeks to dismiss responsibility for the biggest stuff up in Victoria's electoral management. Mr Tully has tried to shift blame on the long hours worked by VEC staff and in doing so Mr Tully seeks to avoid and deny any accountability or responsibility.

Steve Tully and the VEC had poorly managed the election and the VEC made a serious error in the data-entry of the ballot papers by over inflating the result of the election and the Liberal Party vote by 6,000 votes. Mr Tully subsequently provisionally declared that the last position of Western Metropolitan Region was won by the DLP lead candidate candidate, John Mulholland.

The fact remains is that had the VEC done its job properly this monumental stuff up would never have eventuated.

We had prior to the November election and immediately following the ballot requested information on the number of ballot papers that had been issued and received by the VEC. Information that the Chief Commissioner Steve Tully refused to provide. WHY?

Had this information been provided and accounted for, as requested, the Electoral Commission should have and would have known before they pressed the run button that there was a serious flaw in the VEC data-entry process. A quick tally of the number of primary votes and the number of informal ballots would have alerted the VEC that something was wrong . This is the exact reason why we had requested this information in the first place. In accounting terms it provides a trail balance, a check digit that ensures that all votes recorded are account for. In previous Victorian elections this information was previously available.

The fact that Mr Tully refused to provide this information, as requested, undermines the integrity of the election and prevented effective scrutiny of the ballot. It also raises questions as to the integrity of the software in use. The VEC has spent millions of dollars in software development and basic checks and balance were not in place to avoid the error that inventuated.

The problem is Steve Tully and his refusal to ensure that Victoria's electoral process is open and transparent. His refusal to provide information on the number of ballot papers issued and detailed eloection results can not be excused.

This election has been one the worst managed elections on record. The VEC still has not provided the details of the election results and electoral commission continues to refuse to make the details of the election results public. In doing so Mr Steve Tully continues to bring Victoria's State election into disrepute.

There is no excuse for the Chief Electoral Commissioner to not publish the detailed results, including the full count sheet and the transcribed below-the-line preference data files.

Without access to this information it is impossible for the electronic election results to be effectively scrutinised or verified, denying the public the right of independent review and analysis.

The detailed election results are a public document and legal precedence already exist requiring the electoral commission to make the data readily available for independent review and analysis. The VEC should and MUST publish this information on its web site without delay.

If necessary we will make an fresh Freedom of Information (FOI) application to ensure that the election results are readily available. The necessity of having to make a FOI application is itself an abuse of process and one that should be of concern to the Minister and State Attorney General, Rob Hulls, who is the Minister responsible for both FOI legislation and the conduct of the Victorian Electoral Commission. Mr Hulls office has been made aware of the deficiency in the VEC's management of the election.

The Chief Commissioner's actions and the identified problems with the conduct of the November State Election warrants a parliamentary review and the Mr Tully's resignation.

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