Keeping State Secrets VEC under review

The Victorian Electoral Commission has been the subject of intense reviews by VEXNEWS this week. The review follows on from a number of complaints and growing disillusionment of VEC management and the culture of avoidance, corruption and cover up.

Victoria’s public elections are no longer open and transparent and the Chief Commissioner Steve Tully has gone to extraordinary steps to avoid accountability.

A large number of complaints have beeN received across the state that the Victorian Electoral Commission has refused to make available copies of the detailed election results record on computeR. Candidates’ scrutineers have reported that they were denied access to copies of the preference data files which are used to determine the results of the election in spite the fact that this information is a public document and subject to FOI the Commission is refusing to publish the preference data files.

The returning officer for the City of Hume wrongfully informed one candidate that the information was not available. Without access to this data scrutineers are denied the opportunity to scrutinise the count of public elections, there is no reason why this information is not made public.

In 2006 Steve Tully came under criticism for a botch up computerised count where wrong data had been recorded and over 250 votes went missing between count A and Count B in the Western Metropolitan region. The results of the election changed bwteeen counts with a difference of less then 150 votes. Without a copy of the crucial preference data-files, independnet analysis and review of the data-entry quality can not be made.

Steve Tully when requested by the Victorian Parliament Electoral Matters review committee to provide copies of the data file for booths counts claimed that the crucial information for Count A had been destroyed and the data overwritten.

This has raised serious concern over the practices and security of data held by the VEC. Some think that Steve Tully has deliberately mislead the Parliament in an attention to cover-up what was clearly a botched election count.

Simon Hancock and Glenda Fraser are responsible for the VEC computer count and many IT professionals consider it unlikely that there were no backups of such an important data-entry exercise, costing Victoria millions of dollars. To not have in place risk management and backup of data would be considered negligent and leave the Commission open to allegations of fraudulent coverup of mistakes made during the count.

There are accusations that Steve Tully has compromised the professional standing of his senior staff by implying that the administration of the VEC IT system is shonky at best.

Steve Tully has engaged in a campaign of harassment and lies, designed to seek revenge and intimidation of witness to the parliamentary enquiry into the VEC botched elections processes.

His disgraceful false accusations against Labor Strategist Ray Collins late last week is a sign of a desperate man who will stop at nothing to avoid criticism and review.

Submission have been made to the State Parliament to have the Ombudsman empowered to review the administration of the Commission. The VEC is specifically excluded form the review under the current terms of the Ombudsman Act.