The Victorian Electoral Commission is set to repeat some of the mistakes they made in 2006.
Bill Lang, Melbourne City Council’s Returning Officer, has refused calls for the Lord Mayor's election to be counted manually. There is no justification for a computerised data-entry count. A number of candidates in the election have supported the call for the count to be open and transparent.
If the computer count is to proceed then the VEC should presort ballot papers prior to batching them ready for data-entry.
Whilst there is nothing in the legislation that requires a presorting of the ballot, other then the obligation to ensure that the election is open and transparent, there is nothing that prevents the VEC from presorting ballot papers into primary votes, as is the case in Senate elections.
The election of Lord Mayor of Melbourne is expected to be close and the presorting of ballot papers would significantly assist in the orderly scrutiny of the ballot whilst maintaining an open and transparent counting of the ballot.
Without presorting of the ballot it is impossible to effectively scrutinise a computerised data-entry count of the election.
The Victorian State Parliament in its report on the Conduct of the 2006 Victorian State election had recommended that ballot papers be presorted prior to data entry. (See comments below for copy of extract from the Parliamentary Inquiry)
By refusing to initiate a presorting of the ballot papers the VEC has thumbed its nose at the State Parliament demonstrating its level of contempt and inability to self-regulate the conduct of the election in order to maintain an open and transparent electoral process.
A complaint has been forwarded to the Minister, Richard Wynne and the Victorian Parliamentary Electoral Review Committee.