Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Victorian Election results hidden from view

VEC deny public access to detailed election results bring the State into disrepute

Victorian Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, continues to deny publication of detailed election results preventing independent analysis and review. Mr Tully has presided over the worst managed election in recent living memory with the Victorian Electoral Commission stuffing up the initial counts, double entry of votes, dodgy figures and an overall lack of accountability and transparency.

Earlier this week we saw the extraordinary situation were the VEC had overstated the Liberal Party vote and provisionally declared the wrong candidate elected. There was no excuse for this mistake. A comparison between the number of ballot papers issued and a tally of all formal and informal votes for each electorate should have alerted the VEC to the fatal mistake in the VEC data entry process. The VEC had earlier refused to provide statistical information related to the number of ballot papers issued and received prior and immediately following the November poll. Why? Details on the number of ballot papers issued by each polling place should have been made available on request and or published on the VEC Internet site.

It is fundamental that pubic elections are open and transparent and that information is readily available.

There are calls for the State Parliament to hold a parliamentary review of the Electoral commission and the mis-management associated with the conduct of the State Election. Responsibility for the VEC and State elections comes under the portfolio is Victoria's Attorney General Rob Hulls who is also responsible for the Freedom of Information Act.

The Chief Commissioner to date has refused to publish the detailed election results including the below-the-line preference data.

This information was previously made available in past elections but the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully, following a multitude of errors and mismanagement of the conduct of the election has refused to publish the detailed election results in an attempt to avoid public scrutiny and review.

The continuing failure of the Chief Commissioner to ensure that Victoria's elections are open and transparent has brought Victoria and the State Government into disrepute.

Information and details of the election results are public documents and as such the public has a right to view this information. Mr Tully has no justification or reason to prevent their disclosure or publication other then his desire to avoid accountability and public review.

If need be we will soon make an FOI application to obtain access to this information and refer this matter to the State Ombudsman for review. The requirement to have to make an FOI application to gain access to what should reality be available to public is an direct abuse of the FOI requirements and something that should be of concern to Rob Hulls as Minister responsible for the FOI Act. The Minister should intervene and insist that the result are made published and made public without delay. Failure to do so would reflect poorly on the State Government and undermine it's commitment to open and transparent governance.

The Victorian public have a right to know where the VEC went wrong and what can be done to prevent the mistakes occurring again in the future.

Those wishing to view the flawed VEC count sheet for Northern and Western Metropolitan Regions (missing is the below the line preference data that the VEC has refused to make available) can view a copy here. (Thanks to the anonymous contributor that sent us the files)

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