Friday, November 28, 2008

Orders from Above

Bill Lang denies Melbourne an open and transparent election count

Bill Lang, City of Melbourne's VEC Returning officer rejects call for an open and transparent count of the City's vote bringing the conduct of the election into disrepute.

Acting from orders above, in spite the Greens support and their “unofficial” plea - Melbourne City Council’s VEC Returning Officer, Bill Lang, has refused to undertake a preliminary sorting of the ballot papers before data-entering preferences.

Lang's refusal under orders "from above" indicates that the returning officer is not really in charge.

The decision of the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) to not undertake a preliminary primary vote distribution undermines public confidence and demonstrates the VEC's Chief Commissioner's level of contempt for the Victorian Parliament which had recommended as part of its review of the 2006 State Election that ballot papers should be presorted prior to data-entry. Presorting would have enabled better and proper scrutiny of the count, ensuring that the conduct of the election is fully open and transparent It also provides a check digit to ensure that the data-entry count is correctly reconciled so no votes can go missing unexplained (This was something the VEC failed to do in the 2006 State Election).

The VEC's refusal to respect the determination of the State Parliament demonstrates its unwillingness to self-regulate its affairs and its inability to conduct an open and transparent count of the vote.

The VEC will prevent scrutineers from properly scrutinising the count which will now be hidden behind the vail of technology undermining overall public confidence in the Victorian Electoral Commission.

If it is tight, as expected (Within 1.5%), then a recount will be required.

The VEC claim that it will take them 15 seconds to data-entry each vote (This does not include time required for batching and administration of the count). There will be 18 data-entry operators keying vote preferences into the VEC database. The counting of the vote will be done in cyberspace, removed from the watchful eyes of Candidate's scrutineers. The time taken to count the Lord Mayor's vote is estimated at 13 hours (18 x 13 or 234 data-entry hours) to count 56000 votes. (We expect it to take much longer then that. - It would have been quicker and better to have counted the Lord Mayor's vote manually est. time 9 hours).

Under the provisions of the Victorian Local Government Act the Returning officer is required to presort ballot papers into primary votes.

Your vote is in the mail. To date, with one day to go, the VEC has received 51176 envelopes back. Voting closes Friday 6:00PM 200 Little Collins Street.

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