Thursday, November 13, 2008

Your vote is in the mail

Calls for review of Victorian Municipal election system

Ongoing public concern has been expressed at Victoria's Municipal Postal voting system and its susceptibility to voter fraud. Herald Sun Ian Royall

Mayoral candidate Gary Morgan said the current system was open to manipulation.

Signatures, names and addresses on the back of ballot papers are checked by election officers, but there is no way of verifying signatures, he said.

Claims of people collecting bulk ballot papers dogged the city election in 2004, but nothing was proven.

Calls for an electoral review for the City of Melbourne fell on deaf ears this year. The council thrice rejected such motions, and the State Government was unmoved.

Cr Ng, who voted against a review, yesterday said she supported an inquiry into the current system.

The Melbourne Business Council has also said the city should return to attendance voting.

Melbourne City Councillors had thrice called for a review of the Council's electoral system and thrice John So and his team , including Lord Mayor candidates Catherine Ng and Gary Singer, rejected a review preferring to leave the system wide open to abuse.

A number of candidates have taken up the issue of Melbourne governance but many have been silent.

Governance is what the Council should be about. It is what prevents the Council from being corrupt. The electoral process is a fundamental part of governance,

There is no need for a Postal voting system. A vaste majority of electors live within the state of Victoria and with the implementation of a single "election day" it should be possible for every Victorian to cast a ballot for their Local Council.if they do not live in the municipality they should be entitled to cast an absentee vote anywhere in Victoria. Electoral officers should be able to verify the identity of the person claiming to vote and in the process prevent voter fraud. Those persons who reside outside of Victoria or who are unable to attend on election day should have the opportunity to either cast a pre-poll ballot or a postal vote.

Many voters will be disenfranchised as a result of the system put in place by the Victorian State Government

Voters are expected to attend a voting center expecting to cast an absentee vote only to discover that the ballot has already closed. Not enough has been done by the Victorian Electoral Commission to ensure that voters are made aware of the different closing dates.

Under the current system voting in Municipalities that have adopted a postal voting system will close on Friday, November 28 where Municipalities that maintain attendance voting will close on Saturday November 29. Australia normally goes the polls on a Saturday and the early closing of postal ballots will result in a significant number of Victorian being disnefranches and their vote not counted. the Victorian Electoral Commission should have advocated for postal votes to close on the Monday following the Saturday Election date not one day before.

The State Government have known of the potential problems that will arise on voting day but have done little to nothing to address the issues. Much more could have and should have been done.

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