The Victorian Electoral Commission has responded to our Freedom of Information request seeking copies of the “below-the-line-preference” data files, summary reports and additional information. Information was sent by the Victorian Electoral Commission to the wrong address and not the contact information outline in the Freedom of Information application.
The Victorian Electoral Commission in administering the FOI request has possible breached the provisions of the Victorian Electoral Act and or Privacy Act. A complaint associated with the Victorian Electoral Commissions handling of the application has been forwarded tho The Victorian Privacy Commission for consideration and review.
Access to the information requested is still outstanding.
The Victorian Electoral Commission went to extra-ordinary length and considerable expense in printing out in hard copy most of the information that was provide as opposed to just copying the information and forwarding it in electronic format. Why? we fail to understand but I am sure a few more trees died in vein as a result. We accept no responsibility for the VEC actions in this respect as we had anticipated and expected that the information would be provided in electronic format. Some people would be forgiven in thinking that the VEC provided the information in hard copy format in order to prevent its distribution, collation and data analysis. That might not be far off the mark. It is difficult to say but efficient and cost saving it was not. As the information was sent to the wrong address we have requested that the VEC re-forward copies of their response in electronic format this time. Saving time and money.
The Victorian Electoral Commission had responded to the FOI request in part only they failed to provided copies of all the information requested.
1. Copies of the below the line data preference data files as requested – No response given.
Copies of below the line preference data was provided free of charge during the 1999, 2002 an 2004 Melbourne City Council Elections. This information is readily available and would be no more then 1mb for each electorate and would take approx. 2 mins to copy per file and this information should be published on the Victorian Electoral Commission’s web site.
Without access to the below the line data files it is impossible to effectively scrutinise of verify the results of the election.
The below the line preference data is a public document and precedence has been set in a ruling of the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal requiring that this information be made available.
2. Copies of all summary count sheets. (Although this information has been obtained via a third party – copies published on my web site http://melbcity.topcities.com/) Missing from the VEC responce data are copies of the summary distribution report of the preliminary count.
3. Copies of polling centers return summary results information for the legilsative Council (Upper-house) – similar information detailing polling place results in relation to lower house electorates was published by the VEC on their Internet web site.
The Victorian electoral commission has claimed that the cost of providing this information would be in excess of $600.00 which is very dubious and highly questionable.
The information is stored in electronic format and the cost of copying that information would be less then $2.00.
Polling place data for the Legislative Council is normally available and published on election night and updated through the count.
In the 2006 State Election the Victorian Electoral Commission failed to make this information available instead they only provided an electorate wide summary only. (The AEC provides senate results statistics broken down to polling places)
Access to the polling place summary data is fundamental in providing a check and balance as to the number of ballot papers issued and returned.
There were a number of substantial errors recorded during the conduct of the count of the Victorian State Election that had this information been readily available could have and should have been avoided. A quick summary of the polling place returns should have altered the Victorian Electoral Commission that a number of ballot papers had been missing or overstated prior to the distribution of any preferences. This information is still outstanding.
4. The Victorian Electoral Commission has provided limited information on the certification of software used to conduct the Victorian State Election count. Copies of certification certificates have been provided (but not yet received – due to the VEC mistake in addressing their response) for the electronic ‘Kiosk’ voting centres and the algorithm used in the calculation of the proportional representation results.
Missing is the detailed supporting certification documentation, reports and certification of the actual software related to the data-entry, front end, data storage and reporting software that utilises the algorithm used. Either the software used by the Victorian Electoral Commission has not been fully certified of the Victorian Electoral Commission has withheld access to this information.
The Victorian Electoral Commission again is seeking to avoid open and public disclose of the detailed results of the 2006 Victorian State Election.
A number of serious errors in the counting of the election have occurred and questions related to the discrepancy in the number of total votes record between the preliminary count and the recount in Western Metropolitan region have north been fully explained or verifiable based on the public documentation provided.
We are informed that copies of the below the line data files were not made available to scrutineers.
There is a discrepancy of over 450 ballot papers between the preliminary count and the recount. Without access to the polling place return data and the below the line preference data files, as requested, it is impossible to verify the results of the election .
It is fundamental that our public elections are open and transparent and subject to independent review and analysis.
With the utilisation of electronic computer based technology all relevant information and data files must be readily available to scrutineers and the public.
One can only ask
“WHY IS THE VICTORIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION RELUCTANT TO MAKE THIS INFORMATION AVAILABLE THAT THEY ARE PREPARED TO GO TO SUCH EXTENTS TO AVOID DISCLOSURE AND ACCOUNTABILITY”.
The actions of the Chief Electoral Commissioner and the Victorian Electoral Commission continues to bring 2006 Victorian State Election into disrepute.