Melbcity: VEC Missing Vote Tally cloaked in a veil of secrecy

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC)’s Tally for the City of Melbourne shows votes have gone missing.  In spite the City of Melbourne’s Returning Officer. Bill Lang. claiming that the data provided to scrutineers was a complete copy of the below the line votes there are votes missing or added into the count that were not disclosed or included in the information provided to scrutineers.

Under the Local Government Legislation the VEC is required to reconcile the number of votes recorded in the computer database prior to running the execute button.  When requested to provide a copy of the reconciliation report the Returning Officer failed to do so.  We wonder why the secrecy?

In 2006 the VEC stuffed up the Legislative Council Northern Metro and Western Metro counts by entering in the wrong data into the computer, No attempt was made to reconcile the number of ballots recorded on the computer records with the number of ballots received.  It is this sought of sloppy administration and cutting corners that continues to bring the VEC into disrepute.  It is made worst when they seek to cover it up and deny information to scrutineers.

Bill Lang said at the scrutineer/candidate’s meeting that “the scrutiny of the ballot is not important”. Something we strongly disagree with.   The scrutiny of the ballot is just as, if not more, important than the counting of the votes.  Without scrutineers and access to the data there is no way of knowing if the results of the election are correct and that the votes have not been tampered with or that the data-entry is in fact a true record.

Public confidence can only be maintained if the conduct of the election is open and transparent and subject to independent scrutiny.  Something that the VEC has failed to enure is maintained

To highlight the extent of inconsistencies in the VEC’s record keeping

On Friday after the close of the poll the VEC reported they had received back a total of 66432 envelopes

The Official Election results published today reports:

Leadership Team (election of 1 Lord Mayor and 1 Deputy Lord Mayor)

Enrolment: 108514
Formal Votes: 62169
Informal Votes: 2827 (4.35% of the total votes)
Voter Turnout: 64996 (59.90% of the total enrolment)

Councillors (9 vacancies)

Enrolment: 108514
Formal Votes: 63664
Informal Votes: 1407 (2.16% of the total votes)
Voter Turnout: 65071 (59.97% of the total enrolment)
 Anyone viewing this information can tell from looking at the above that ballot papers have gone missing or not accounted for. There is a discrepancy between the Lord Mayors Ballot  (649996) and the Council Ballot (65071) of 75 votes – Presumably they were envelopes that had one ballot paper in them and not the other.

The number of missing ballot papers is greater as not all envelopes that have ballot papers missing would have had Council ballots in them and not the Leadership ballot, Some would have been the other way around.

What is a greater concern is that the number of envelopes reported as being received by the VEC on the Friday was 66432 some 1361 less Council Ballots and 1436 less Leadership ballots. Where did these ballots go?    They could have been ballot papers that were rejected, did not have a signature or no ballot papers were inside the returned envelope.  We just do not know, the VEC failed to provided a reconciliation report as required prior to running the count program.

There are a number of possible errors and faults that can occur with a computer count.  The wrong data can be transcribed and entered into the computers database, as we saw in Western and Northern Metro seats during the 2006 State Election. Votes could be removed from the count or even double counted.  Normally ballots are presorted, prior to counting, into primary votes.  This allows scrutineers to obtain an early primary figure which in turn is then used as a control/check digit to determine if any votes have been left out or mis-recorded.  The Victorian Local Government Act  (Sch 3 cl 11B) requires that votes be sorted into parcels based on the primary vote.  

The VEC sought to cut corners by skipping this very important step in the process of counting the vote and in doing so prevented scrutineers from being able to properly monitor the data-entry and counting process. They were left blind, bamboozled by the claims that the use of computers in the counting of votes was accurate,  But as we know this is not true – like that of a Magic Trick the audience can be readily deceived and distracted.

For the sack of saving $300 to $400 to have staff presort the Council below the line ballot papers into primary votes the VEC undermined and prevented the proper scrutiny of the ballot. The presorting of ballot papers could have been undertaken in parallel with the opening of and the sorting of ballot papers into above-the-line and below-the-line votes. There were only 5500 below-the-line votes – not an onerous task by any stretch..

The conduct of the election count was made worst by the VEC refusing to provide final copies of the computer data-file at the conclusion of the count. Scrutineers were again denied access to crucial information.  Review of the count sheet shows that the results of the election were within 350 votes which could have changed the election outcome.  A wrong figure punched into the computer a 7285 instead of 7825 is all that it would take to produce a different result and no one would know.
The VEC’s administrative processes are not good, they certainly do not meet the high professional standard that is employed by the Australian Electoral Commission. There is no independent oversight or review.  The VEC has not been vetted or certified to meet ISO 2000 quality control standards.  It is an organisation that is left wanting with little desire.  
$35 Million Misspent

The VEC spent over $35 Million Dollars developing software (Most of which was outsourced to India). It is still unclear who owns the intellectual property rights for the VEC’s election software?  

What we do know is that design of software that developed does not meet current IT industry standards. 
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is by far the better and more professional body. 

Given that the AEC already has in place computer systems and administrative procedures used to conduct elections we have to wonder what is it that Victorian Taxpayers get for their investment. 

Why do we have two public electoral authorities with duplicated resources  when we could have just one professional organisation.  

It is up to our parliamentarians (The Electoral matters Committee) to sort this mess out.  They have to act to restore confidence and integrity, put an end to excessive waste, secrecy and incompetence that engulf the Victorian Electoral Commission.  
The first step would be to subject the VEC to independent review by the office of the State Ombudsman and Auditor General.

Melbcity: VEC Missing Vote Tally cloaked in a veil of secrecy

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC)’s Tally for the City of Melbourne shows votes have gone missing.  In spite the City of Melbourne’s Returning Officer. Bill Lang. claiming that the data provided to scrutineers was a complete copy of the below the line votes there are votes missing or added into the count that were not disclosed or included in the information provided to scrutineers.

Under the Local Government Legislation the VEC is required to reconcile the number of votes recorded in the computer database prior to running the execute button.  When requested to provide a copy of the reconciliation report the Returning Officer failed to do so.  We wonder why the secrecy?

In 2006 the VEC stuffed up the Legislative Council Northern Metro and Western Metro counts by entering in the wrong data into the computer, No attempt was made to reconcile the number of ballots recorded on the computer records with the number of ballots received.  It is this sought of sloppy administration and cutting corners that continues to bring the VEC into disrepute.  It is made worst when they seek to cover it up and deny information to scrutineers.

Bill Lang said at the scrutineer/candidate’s meeting that “the scrutiny of the ballot is not important”. Something we strongly disagree with.   The scrutiny of the ballot is just as, if not more, important than the counting of the votes.  Without scrutineers and access to the data there is no way of knowing if the results of the election are correct and that the votes have not been tampered with or that the data-entry is in fact a true record.

Public confidence can only be maintained if the conduct of the election is open and transparent and subject to independent scrutiny.  Something that the VEC has failed to enure is maintained

To highlight the extent of inconsistencies in the VEC’s record keeping

On Friday after the close of the poll the VEC reported they had received back a total of 66432 envelopes

The Official Election results published today reports:

Leadership Team (election of 1 Lord Mayor and 1 Deputy Lord Mayor)

Enrolment: 108514
Formal Votes: 62169
Informal Votes: 2827 (4.35% of the total votes)
Voter Turnout: 64996 (59.90% of the total enrolment)

Councillors (9 vacancies)

Enrolment: 108514
Formal Votes: 63664
Informal Votes: 1407 (2.16% of the total votes)
Voter Turnout: 65071 (59.97% of the total enrolment)
 Anyone viewing this information can tell from looking at the above that ballot papers have gone missing or not accounted for. There is a discrepancy between the Lord Mayors Ballot  (649996) and the Council Ballot (65071) of 75 votes – Presumably they were envelopes that had one ballot paper in them and not the other.

The number of missing ballot papers is greater as not all envelopes that have ballot papers missing would have had Council ballots in them and not the Leadership ballot, Some would have been the other way around.

What is a greater concern is that the number of envelopes reported as being received by the VEC on the Friday was 66432 some 1361 less Council Ballots and 1436 less Leadership ballots. Where did these ballots go?    They could have been ballot papers that were rejected, did not have a signature or no ballot papers were inside the returned envelope.  We just do not know, the VEC failed to provided a reconciliation report as required prior to running the count program.

There are a number of possible errors and faults that can occur with a computer count.  The wrong data can be transcribed and entered into the computers database, as we saw in Western and Northern Metro seats during the 2006 State Election. Votes could be removed from the count or even double counted.  Normally ballots are presorted, prior to counting, into primary votes.  This allows scrutineers to obtain an early primary figure which in turn is then used as a control/check digit to determine if any votes have been left out or mis-recorded.  The Victorian Local Government Act  (Sch 3 cl 11B) requires that votes be sorted into parcels based on the primary vote.  

The VEC sought to cut corners by skipping this very important step in the process of counting the vote and in doing so prevented scrutineers from being able to properly monitor the data-entry and counting process. They were left blind, bamboozled by the claims that the use of computers in the counting of votes was accurate,  But as we know this is not true – like that of a Magic Trick the audience can be readily deceived and distracted.

For the sack of saving $300 to $400 to have staff presort the Council below the line ballot papers into primary votes the VEC undermined and prevented the proper scrutiny of the ballot. The presorting of ballot papers could have been undertaken in parallel with the opening of and the sorting of ballot papers into above-the-line and below-the-line votes. There were only 5500 below-the-line votes – not an onerous task by any stretch..

The conduct of the election count was made worst by the VEC refusing to provide final copies of the computer data-file at the conclusion of the count. Scrutineers were again denied access to crucial information.  Review of the count sheet shows that the results of the election were within 350 votes which could have changed the election outcome.  A wrong figure punched into the computer a 7285 instead of 7825 is all that it would take to produce a different result and no one would know.
The VEC’s administrative processes are not good, they certainly do not meet the high professional standard that is employed by the Australian Electoral Commission. There is no independent oversight or review.  The VEC has not been vetted or certified to meet ISO 2000 quality control standards.  It is an organisation that is left wanting with little desire.  
$35 Million Misspent

The VEC spent over $35 Million Dollars developing software (Most of which was outsourced to India). It is still unclear who owns the intellectual property rights for the VEC’s election software?  

What we do know is that design of software that developed does not meet current IT industry standards. 
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is by far the better and more professional body. 

Given that the AEC already has in place computer systems and administrative procedures used to conduct elections we have to wonder what is it that Victorian Taxpayers get for their investment. 

Why do we have two public electoral authorities with duplicated resources  when we could have just one professional organisation.  

It is up to our parliamentarians (The Electoral matters Committee) to sort this mess out.  They have to act to restore confidence and integrity, put an end to excessive waste, secrecy and incompetence that engulf the Victorian Electoral Commission.  
The first step would be to subject the VEC to independent review by the office of the State Ombudsman and Auditor General.

Lord Mayor Vote Stats: 2CP

Based on a sample of 41213 votes (The VEC were unwilling to provide copies of the full data set of preferences, so much for their claim of openness and transparency – Computer based counts are not open or transparent in Victoria)

The following Two Candidate Preferred (2CP) statistics show Robert Doyle the clear winner against all candidates

Doyle 2CPP Split Other
60.50% Doyle/Shanahan (Chambelin) 39.50%
62.26% Doyle/Parkes (Greens) 37.74%
59.42% Doyle/Singer (John So – Melbourne Living) 40.58%
63.30% Doyle/Morgan (Elliot) 36.70%
61.29% Doyle/Nolte (Our Melbourne) 38.71%
67.74% Doyle/Rankin (Forward Together) 32.26%

Preference distribution table (To view – copy table below and past into document landscape mode)



ID#
Candidate
To
Team                                                          Preference
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1438
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
635
417
100
72
80
47
45
41
3
TEAM DOYLE
413
596
87
68
58
56
69
91
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
80
85
842
105
81
89
81
75
5
OUR MELBOURNE
84
92
136
572
390
69
49
45
6
THE GREENS
49
68
71
380
535
114
103
117
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
85
75
81
106
123
557
80
330
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
48
51
70
61
102
415
584
107
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
44
54
51
74
69
91
427
625
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
344
1924
482
425
373
322
199
118
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
4187
3
TEAM DOYLE
696
492
1801
288
234
141
205
329
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
340
349
375
333
1847
302
301
335
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1963
474
486
501
311
262
117
70
6
THE GREENS
362
312
311
326
437
1846
262
325
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
308
337
336
1877
388
489
277
172
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
73
160
230
261
323
491
2312
334
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
101
139
166
176
274
334
514
2482
3
TEAM DOYLE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1182
15671
2180
1759
1466
1302
1003
775
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
15593
2277
1920
1571
1328
1028
1079
541
3
TEAM DOYLE
25342
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
2744
1436
1898
1360
14232
1214
921
1508
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1059
1747
1820
2737
2289
14538
777
349
6
THE GREENS
1164
1031
1150
1268
2075
1578
1397
15629
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
2729
1747
1308
14409
1318
1992
1085
748
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
426
807
14189
1300
1546
1973
3534
1563
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
445
626
877
938
1088
1717
15546
4101
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
275
495
780
696
698
3387
441
265
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
517
841
738
685
510
446
3135
167
3
TEAM DOYLE
1514
638
446
316
304
281
318
3217
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
7039
5
OUR MELBOURNE
3358
664
673
845
680
434
232
133
6
THE GREENS
317
3133
445
450
616
566
501
1003
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
754
741
3233
488
496
636
402
289
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
146
296
399
3174
540
719
1204
559
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
158
231
325
385
3195
570
806
1368
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
202
263
278
285
1079
239
185
137
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
1107
340
317
243
231
229
152
51
3
TEAM DOYLE
283
322
244
231
183
201
202
1000
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
249
940
251
256
255
217
236
260
5
OUR MELBOURNE
2670
6
THE GREENS
378
203
200
214
260
974
187
250
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
254
328
1017
246
237
317
164
106
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
83
148
225
1003
225
298
473
215
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
114
126
138
192
200
195
1071
633
6
THE GREENS
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
318
539
691
989
4766
916
530
446
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
541
701
892
4612
891
677
636
244
3
TEAM DOYLE
826
619
567
496
454
642
775
4815
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
338
404
512
633
790
4315
990
1209
5
OUR MELBOURNE
647
700
650
804
852
890
4213
398
6
THE GREENS
9196
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
1547
4446
766
545
452
692
461
280
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
4200
1076
701
570
531
584
947
584
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
779
711
4417
547
460
480
644
1156
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
466
762
921
885
970
4619
595
495
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
3195
924
993
1041
1935
684
671
267
3
TEAM DOYLE
1431
913
668
1729
3161
558
484
763
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
704
737
1888
3511
947
731
568
618
5
OUR MELBOURNE
519
1991
3614
1049
1066
741
513
211
6
THE GREENS
2136
3214
673
553
569
941
707
912
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
9714
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
939
615
473
487
591
770
1526
4306
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
324
558
484
459
475
670
4650
2093
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
116
160
166
140
147
134
136
523
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
74
133
186
572
165
175
152
66
3
TEAM DOYLE
125
130
523
133
125
155
172
160
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
62
100
106
180
211
569
138
154
5
OUR MELBOURNE
86
127
148
224
593
179
92
72
6
THE GREENS
154
556
148
102
117
122
164
157
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
296
193
99
88
79
113
563
91
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
1523
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
610
124
147
84
86
76
106
288
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
72
81
103
103
143
119
93
345
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
44
315
110
151
117
115
170
37
3
TEAM DOYLE
47
62
61
70
95
179
326
218
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
47
57
87
94
204
297
134
138
5
OUR MELBOURNE
96
117
114
432
106
92
73
29
6
THE GREENS
426
100
187
70
40
96
65
75
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
100
198
311
82
75
96
127
70
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
227
129
86
57
279
65
71
144
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
1059

 

Lord Mayor Vote Stats: 2CP

Based on a sample of 41213 votes (The VEC were unwilling to provide copies of the full data set of preferences, so much for their claim of openness and transparency – Computer based counts are not open or transparent in Victoria)

The following Two Candidate Preferred (2CP) statistics show Robert Doyle the clear winner against all candidates

Doyle 2CPP Split Other
60.50% Doyle/Shanahan (Chambelin) 39.50%
62.26% Doyle/Parkes (Greens) 37.74%
59.42% Doyle/Singer (John So – Melbourne Living) 40.58%
63.30% Doyle/Morgan (Elliot) 36.70%
61.29% Doyle/Nolte (Our Melbourne) 38.71%
67.74% Doyle/Rankin (Forward Together) 32.26%

Preference distribution table (To view – copy table below and past into document landscape mode)



ID#
Candidate
To
Team                                                          Preference
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1438
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
635
417
100
72
80
47
45
41
3
TEAM DOYLE
413
596
87
68
58
56
69
91
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
80
85
842
105
81
89
81
75
5
OUR MELBOURNE
84
92
136
572
390
69
49
45
6
THE GREENS
49
68
71
380
535
114
103
117
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
85
75
81
106
123
557
80
330
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
48
51
70
61
102
415
584
107
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
44
54
51
74
69
91
427
625
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
344
1924
482
425
373
322
199
118
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
4187
3
TEAM DOYLE
696
492
1801
288
234
141
205
329
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
340
349
375
333
1847
302
301
335
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1963
474
486
501
311
262
117
70
6
THE GREENS
362
312
311
326
437
1846
262
325
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
308
337
336
1877
388
489
277
172
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
73
160
230
261
323
491
2312
334
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
101
139
166
176
274
334
514
2482
3
TEAM DOYLE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
1182
15671
2180
1759
1466
1302
1003
775
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
15593
2277
1920
1571
1328
1028
1079
541
3
TEAM DOYLE
25342
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
2744
1436
1898
1360
14232
1214
921
1508
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1059
1747
1820
2737
2289
14538
777
349
6
THE GREENS
1164
1031
1150
1268
2075
1578
1397
15629
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
2729
1747
1308
14409
1318
1992
1085
748
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
426
807
14189
1300
1546
1973
3534
1563
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
445
626
877
938
1088
1717
15546
4101
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
275
495
780
696
698
3387
441
265
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
517
841
738
685
510
446
3135
167
3
TEAM DOYLE
1514
638
446
316
304
281
318
3217
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
7039
5
OUR MELBOURNE
3358
664
673
845
680
434
232
133
6
THE GREENS
317
3133
445
450
616
566
501
1003
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
754
741
3233
488
496
636
402
289
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
146
296
399
3174
540
719
1204
559
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
158
231
325
385
3195
570
806
1368
5
OUR MELBOURNE
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
202
263
278
285
1079
239
185
137
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
1107
340
317
243
231
229
152
51
3
TEAM DOYLE
283
322
244
231
183
201
202
1000
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
249
940
251
256
255
217
236
260
5
OUR MELBOURNE
2670
6
THE GREENS
378
203
200
214
260
974
187
250
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
254
328
1017
246
237
317
164
106
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
83
148
225
1003
225
298
473
215
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
114
126
138
192
200
195
1071
633
6
THE GREENS
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
318
539
691
989
4766
916
530
446
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
541
701
892
4612
891
677
636
244
3
TEAM DOYLE
826
619
567
496
454
642
775
4815
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
338
404
512
633
790
4315
990
1209
5
OUR MELBOURNE
647
700
650
804
852
890
4213
398
6
THE GREENS
9196
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
1547
4446
766
545
452
692
461
280
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
4200
1076
701
570
531
584
947
584
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
779
711
4417
547
460
480
644
1156
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
466
762
921
885
970
4619
595
495
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
3195
924
993
1041
1935
684
671
267
3
TEAM DOYLE
1431
913
668
1729
3161
558
484
763
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
704
737
1888
3511
947
731
568
618
5
OUR MELBOURNE
519
1991
3614
1049
1066
741
513
211
6
THE GREENS
2136
3214
673
553
569
941
707
912
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
9714
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
939
615
473
487
591
770
1526
4306
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
324
558
484
459
475
670
4650
2093
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
116
160
166
140
147
134
136
523
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
74
133
186
572
165
175
152
66
3
TEAM DOYLE
125
130
523
133
125
155
172
160
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
62
100
106
180
211
569
138
154
5
OUR MELBOURNE
86
127
148
224
593
179
92
72
6
THE GREENS
154
556
148
102
117
122
164
157
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
296
193
99
88
79
113
563
91
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
1523
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
610
124
147
84
86
76
106
288
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
1
FORWARD TOGETHER
72
81
103
103
143
119
93
345
2
SHANAHAN CHAMBERLIN FOR MELBOURNE
44
315
110
151
117
115
170
37
3
TEAM DOYLE
47
62
61
70
95
179
326
218
4
MORGAN ELLIOTT – PROSPERITY FOR LIVEABILITY
47
57
87
94
204
297
134
138
5
OUR MELBOURNE
96
117
114
432
106
92
73
29
6
THE GREENS
426
100
187
70
40
96
65
75
7
GARY SINGER – JOHN SO MELBOURNE LIVING
100
198
311
82
75
96
127
70
8
COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS LEADERSHIP
227
129
86
57
279
65
71
144
9
PUT PUBLIC FIRST
1059

 

Victoria’s Proportional Voting System Not Accurate

Victoria’s Municipal Election Voting System is not proportional. At best it is only “semi proportional”.

Distortions in the way the vote is counted,  methods introduced as a means of assisting a manual counting process, seriously impact on the accuracy and results of the elections.

With the use of computer technology there is no justification or merit ion maintaining the current system.

The method of calculating the Surplus Transfer (Surplus divided by number of ballot papers) increases the value of ticket votes at the expense of individual votes. the Surplus transfer value should be based on teh value of the vote not the number of ballot papers.  Some ballott papers have a lesser value then others yet under the current rules they are disproportionally transferred at the same value

To add to the flaws in the system  ballot papers are segmented, grouped together by their transfer value and transferred in seperate transactions skipping candidates already elected and only to be allocated and counted at a higher value than if they have been transferred in a single transaction and allocated to the next candidate according to the voters nominated preference.

The principle that should apply is that a vote for an excluded candidate should be transferred as if the excluded candidate had not stood.  This is best achieved by resetting and restarting the count from scratch on every exclusion.

The Quota for election also distorts the proportionality of the vote in that the method of calculating the quota is determined by dividing the total number of votes by (the number of vacancies plus one)  (x/(y+1).  In a true proportional count it should be  just x/y.

These distortions were introduced into the system to facilitate a manual counting process.,  They are not accurate and do not reflect the voters intentions.

A plea for pure democracy and an accurate voting system

With a computerised counting system there is no justification or reason to maintain the current flawed counting procedures.  The system can and should be accurate.

  • The quota should be x/y. 
  • The method of calculating the surplus transfer value should be based on the value of the vote not the number of ballot papers 
  • There should be one transaction per candidate without segmentation.  

 If the number of vacancies has not been filled in a single iteration count then the candidates with the lowest votes should be excluded and the ballot reset and votes  redistributed according to voters nominated order of preference as if the excluded candidate has not stood.  One transaction per candidate redistributing all votes at the same time.

More information The Wright System

VEC – IT Election Results Under Review

Victorian Ombudsman Review has raised concerns about Government IT contracts

Vic govt IT agency ran ‘sham contracts’

  • By Melissa Jenkins and Melissa Iaria
  • Published Herald Sun – October 24, 2012 4:25PM

THE body that provides information technology services to the Victorian government ran sham contracting processes underpinned by nepotism and awarded up to $4 million worth of work without competitive processes, the ombudsman has found

It’s a pity that the Victorian State Ombudsman is prevented from undertaking a simmilar review of the Victorian Electoral Commission’s $35 Million  Software ware development.  Sowftware that is effectively a duplication of data-services provided by the Australian Electoral Commission.

The Victorian State Ombudsman is prevented from inquiring into the operation and administration of the Victorian Electoral Commission. The only body that can review the VEC is the Parliament itself.

If last weekends Local Government elections are anything to go by there are major questions that need to be addressed as to the quaility and benefit delivered to Victoria Tax payers as a result oif the expenditure,

Information provided to us indicates that the software whoihc was developed in house is only partially certified.  What is clear its design is not the best nor does it meet common IT industry standards.  There is a noticlble lack of transoparency in the process.

It is also unclear who owns the intellectal copyright of the software paid for the State Government.  The contract and technical specifcaitions have not been made public with the VEC claiming commercial confidentiallity. 

The lack of transparency and secrecy behind last weekends elections results further undermined confidence in Victoria’s democratic processes.  Information was not readily available.

Scrutineers had requested copies of data-files for independent analysis and review only to find that the information provided was not what was requested. The VEC staff claiming that the request was not clear.  Something we find hard to believe given that we have sought access to this data at every election since 1996 and even had to take the City Council to VCAT to gain access to the data. 

The detailed results of the election should be readily available during the count and accessible via the internet. Those who witnessed the sham of a computerised count where left in the dark as to what was going on behind the cyber wall. The computer screen provided no information other than the names of candidates who were provisionally declared elected or excluded form the count.  Even ABC Antony Green’s counting program provided more information and better results of the election on his summary screen.   The VEC claimed they had to “slow down” the display of the results to add to its appeal.

Who ever designed the software should be sacked.  Most likely the problem was with the Client “The VEC” and their inability to oversee or manage the Software  specifications and development contract.

$35 Million for what?  Software that the AEC already has…

The State Parliament needs to seriously review the operations and function of the VEC.  The first step would be to give the State Ombdsman authority and oversight over the VEC making it accountbale for its adminsitration and operations.

The next step is to scale down the VEC  and had over responsibility for the conduct of elections to the Australian Electoral Commission saving Hundreds of millions of dollars in duplicated services. 

Hansard: Victorian State Parliament Electoral Matters Committee

Victorian State Parliament – Electoral Matters Committee
Extract from Hansard dated August 23, 2011

The CHAIR — Are you appearing in a private capacity or representing an organisation? If so, which organisation?

Mr van der CRAATS — I am a member of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and of the Australian Labor Party, but the evidence that I give is of personal opinion.

The CHAIR — I ask you to begin your verbal submission, and we will take it from there.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Parliament. I do so with some reluctance, mainly because the last time I gave evidence to this committee I was subjected to what I consider to be harassment, intimidation and vilification by the chief electoral commissioner. It is a matter that I raised before with this committee, or the previous committee, and it failed to respond or to properly act. It is my belief that the actions taken by the chief electoral commissioner constitute contempt of Parliament, and I would like that this committee give further consideration to the complaints that I forwarded to the committee on previous occasions with the view of having the matter properly dealt with by an appropriate authority. I will raise this later in my submission, particularly with respect to item 4 and in relation to the role of the Ombudsman and the electoral commission as it is the Ombudsman that I believe is the appropriate body to review such complaints. However, this committee has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the parliamentary process, that the committee process is intact and that witnesses are not subjected to some form of harassment or intimidation as a result of evidence given that may be detrimental to or critical of the conduct of the election’s process.

Having said those points of view, I wish to raise a number of issues, in particular in respect of the scrutiny of the ballot and the method of counting optional, preferential and other matters. My main concern at this stage is the scrutiny of the ballot and the way in which the Victorian Legislative Council election is counted. Scrutineers were denied access to the data entry data file as and when the data was being entered into the computer. This meant that the scrutineers had no means of properly validating the integrity of the data file. The information was only provided at the conclusion of the count and, as a result, it had to be taken at face value.

There is no justification or rationale as to why that information could not have been progressively published as the data was being recorded. In fact to have done so would have ensured that the process was open and transparent and that the scrutineers had a chance to monitor the data as it proceeded. It would have also ensured that the data had not been tampered with or altered as the election count progressed because people would have had copies and they could have gone back to see if any changes had occurred.

I think this is an important issue, and it is a fundamental one that the committee must address in respect of the drafting of regulations. It has become quite clear and apparent that the Victorian Electoral Commission is incapable, unwilling or does not desire to ensure that this process is open and transparent. This is a matter about which I have had some disagreement and conflict with the Victorian Electoral Commission going back nearly 20 years to when we first involved ourselves in the data entry computerised counting system. I think there is a trend towards computerised counting of elections, and I think that should be welcomed, but it should not be at the expense of openness and transparency. Obviously those candidates who win an election have no need to complain, but those candidates who feel that the system may not have properly fulfilled their requirements or that it was not as open and transparent as it should have been would be perceived as sore losers if they persisted in putting forward their complaints. I watched with great interest the conduct of the 2006 state election. I think many of the members of this Parliament are aware of the errors and the problems related to the way in which that was conducted and counted. There are still a number of unanswered questions in respect of the 2006 election which have not been properly addressed.

However, in reflecting on the 2010 election, there were some improvements. The data file that was eventually provided provided the information pertaining to the preliminary and secondary count. This was useful information and allowed some form of comparisons to the data quality of the data entry that was recorded. It was noted quite significantly that data quality in the 2010 election was significantly better than the data quality that occurred in the 2006 election. However, it was marred by the fact that the Victorian Electoral Commission failed to provide copies of that data file as it was progressively being built up. It was requested. A number of scrutineers I know from the Labor Party requested the Victorian Electoral Commission provide access to that data. They were refused this information. That, in my view, denied them the right to properly scrutinise the election.

It is probably incumbent on the Parliament to look closer at the roles and obligations of the scrutineer and what their role specifically is in terms of where and when they cannot interact with the counting process to oversee it. At the moment it is fairly well left open to the goodwill of the electoral commission to interpret what they consider to be fair or not fair. Unfortunately I do not believe the Victorian Electoral Commission has acted necessarily in good faith, and I do not believe that it has implemented procedures that ensure that the process is open and transparent. The publication of the data file progressively as the count progresses goes a long way to meeting that requirement and my concerns.

The next issue I wish to raise, which I have tried raising on previous occasions, is related to the method of counting that is under the legislation of the Electoral Act. There are a number of deficiencies and errors, in my view, in the way in which the election is counted. These deficiencies and errors came about as a result of a manual counting system. Under the manual counting system there were a number of shortcuts that were introduced into the way in which the count was made, and these were done to facilitate the speed, effort and manageability of a manual count. At the time they were considered to be a fair and reasonable compromise to make. However, with the advent and the use of computer technology we need to really review the methodology that we use to count the vote. There is no need to take these shortcuts. In fact the number of shortcuts that we have implemented really distort the outcome of the election process.

I think that is fairly evident when you analysed the Queensland 2007 Senate election. In that particular instance the segmentation of the vote, the way in which excluded candidates’ preferences were redistributed resulted in, in my view, the wrong candidate being elected to the last position on the Queensland Senate. In analysis of the vote that took place in 2007, if you took the last remaining seven candidates in the count and you redistributed the entire ballot paper according to only those seven candidates standing, the Greens candidate, Larissa Waters, should have been elected. This is an error of process due primarily to the shortcuts and segmentation that we implemented to try make it easy to do a manual count. They are no longer required under a data entry process.

I urge the committee to seriously consider the counting rules to make sure that they are a little more accurate and a little more representative of the voter’s intention. I have outlined those under the system which we have referred to as the ‘Wright’ system. Effectively it is a reiterative counting system that every time there is an exclusion you start the count again as though that candidate had never stood. It effectively mirrors the similar process that takes place in a single-member electorate, which I am sure you are all familiar with.

The other issue I wish to raise is optional preferential voting. The first time it was introduced was in 2010. In my view optional preferential voting is misleading in terms of the voter. The way in which the electoral commission sold and promoted optional preferential voting was that it in fact encouraged voters to put 1 to 5 only on the ballot paper. This disadvantaged and disenfranchised many voters. Those people who may have favoured a particular group or segment of the community stopped at the end of their 5 votes, and the result is that those who remained in the count had a greater say as to the outcome of that election.

I think optional preferential voting needs to be seriously looked at. Personally I do not agree with that. I think you are wasting your vote by exhausting your vote, particularly after no. 5. The aim, if your vote is not counted, is that you should have the opportunity to choose an alternative candidate. I think it is incumbent on the electoral commission to encourage voters to maximise their vote, not to cut it short, not to make it simpler for their data entry process. I think it would be more appropriate and more accurate if the Victorian Electoral Commission stated quite clearly that people should vote or indicate a preference for every candidate, and not just stop at 5. That is an issue I again urge the committee to look at.

In respect of the silent enrolment entitlement, I registered to vote on the day before the election day when I submitted my documentation at the polling place, which included a silent enrolment form. Unfortunately my documentation was lost and, as I understand it, my vote was not counted. I think this boils down to some concerns over the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. I believe that everybody has a right to nominate whether they wish to be on a silent enrolment or not. This would be best facilitated if there was just a tick-box on the application form. Anyone who wanted to enrolled to vote could decide whether or not they want their names listed. It is simpler, more straightforward, and it is certainly more cost effective.

Other issues and concerns relate to the overall duplication that is involved in maintaining a state electoral authority. What we are seeing in across-borders Australia is something like $35 million being spent on duplication of resources. We are seeing vast amounts of money being spent on development of software. It is software which is being duplicated in each state, each territory and each jurisdiction. There should be a lot more coordination and liaison going on. I also believe it would be probably more efficient if we had a centralised Australian Electoral Commission where the states had some input through the form of a board of directors or something like that. A single electoral authority can act professionally, with integrity and certainly have the cost benefits that would come with having a single organisation. Vast amounts of money have been spent on the electoral process, and we could save hundreds of millions of dollars by restructuring and reorganising the way in which the states’ electoral processes are delivered.

Point 4 is an issue of great concern to me. Currently under the Ombudsman Act the Victorian Electoral Commission is excluded from the Ombudsman reviewing it. This has implications with respect to freedom of information. It has implications with respect to people who have complaints about the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. The position of Ombudsman is in place to allow various administrative complaints to be considered outside the political arena. It is difficult, I understand, and this is the problem I think the previous committee had, to address issues that may be perceived to be of a political nature, particularly when dealing with the umpire — that is, the Victorian Electoral Commission. Having reviewed and considered the role of the Ombudsman, particularly in view of the number of complaints I have had in respect to the Victorian electoral commissioner, I believe the Ombudsman is the appropriate person that people should have the right to go to to have these issues properly investigated. I do not see any justification for prohibiting the Ombudsman from reviewing the role of the Victorian electoral commissioner on administrative matters. The Ombudsman has the role of reviewing the Victorian police commissioner, and I think he should have the same role of reviewing the Victorian electoral commission.

My final point of concern is in respect to the 2008 municipal elections. Again this was a failure of the previous committee. It failed to review or provide an opportunity for people to have some input into a review of the municipal elections. There are a number of commonalities that exist between the state and municipal elections but many of them have not been properly addressed. The disclosure of the data entry file as an election progresses is one of them. Municipal elections also have another aspect to them that state elections do not have, and that is the countback system. In reviewing the countback system for the City of Melbourne election which recently occurred as a result of Peter Clarke’s resignation, I became aware of a number of deficiencies in the technicalities of the way in which the countback process has been undertaken. Rather than take that up in detail — because I have not canvassed that particular issue in my submission — I would urge this committee as a matter of urgency prior to the 2012 municipal elections to undertake a review of the 2008 elections and see what comes out of that review.

The CHAIR — Thank you very much. Any questions?

Ms RYALL — Anthony, you mentioned the difference between data quality between the two — —

Mr van der CRAATS — Count A and count B.

Ms RYALL — Yes. What indicated to you that there was a difference?

Mr van der CRAATS — You can do a comparison between the first data and the second data, a direct comparison, and you can get an idea of where the preferences may have changed as a result of data entry error.

In the 2006 election the Victorian Electoral Commission refused to provide copies of the preliminary data entry, therefore it was impossible to make a comparison with the final data entry, so I had no idea where the changes occurred.

Ms RYALL — So when you suggested that there were data quality differences, that was an assumption. Is that correct?

Mr van der CRAATS — No, the records differ. You can see a very clear difference in the record data set itself, the preferences that are written there. For example, in some cases a preference might have been recorded as a ‘050’, or it may have been a ‘50’, or it may have been a ‘5’. I do not know how the systems interpret it; we did not have access to that information. The number of areas that we did identify in the 2010 election were not significant, certainly not enough to warrant a change or closer scrutiny of the vote itself. The time that would be required, obviously, to do that would not be justified by any benefit it would produce.

In the 2006 election that was not necessarily the case, particularly in Western Metropolitan Region. Not having access to that preliminary data and the secondary data, I think, was a major deficiency. The Victorian Electoral Commission at the time claimed that the preliminary data had been destroyed or overwritten. I find that extraordinary and very difficult to believe. As a systems IT person I would certainly have backup processes in place. If I have got data files that are worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to collate, I would certainly have backup copies of that information. Had we been able to do a cross-examination of the preliminary data and the secondary data, we would have realised where the changes occurred. All I can go off is what was published by the Victorian Electoral Commission, and in 2006 there was a discrepancy of 250 of the total number of votes recorded between count A and count B went missing. I can understand that mistakes occur, but I would like to know where those mistakes did occur, and the information published by the electoral commission did not make that clear. It concerns me greatly because in 2006 the change of the result between the first count and the second count was something like — you would remember this very clearly — 150 votes. I do not know where they went, and I am a very fastidious person when it comes to looking at data.

Ms RYALL — Thank you. Just one more question. You spoke of shortcuts. Can you give examples of those shortcuts?

Mr van der CRAATS — When you have got a group of ballot papers and you are excluding a candidate and some candidates are already elected, you skip past those candidates and you deliver the ballot paper to the next available candidate at a higher value. In a proper analysis of the way in which the count should be taken, those votes actually should be contributed to the candidate who was originally elected, or previously elected, to form part of their quota and therefore part of their surplus. That is a shortcut that we took. We said, ‘They’re already elected; we’ll skip them and we’ll dump the vote directly at a lower candidate on the preference pile’. This has the effect of upping the value of that vote — it is no longer equal to the other votes which have contributed to the previous person’s election. That is one shortcut.

Another shortcut occurs in the way in which we distribute surpluses. We do similar things, we skip candidates.

We end up delivering votes in that process. It gets down to the segmentation. If we are distributing the votes, we stop at the point when we have distributed one particular pile of votes. For example, if a candidate has been excluded, they may have six different segmented vote piles: primary votes, secondary primary votes and subsidiary surplus. We distribute them each separately, and that can have a dramatic impact in terms of calculating the transfer value that takes place. This is all related of course to the upper house. These are shortcuts that facilitate a manual count. In a computerised count we can take the time quite readily because we are talking about 3 hours as opposed to 20 minutes to count an election using a computerised algorithm. Do you understand?

Ms RYALL — Thank you.

The CHAIR — There being no further questions, thank you very much, Mr van der Craats, for your time today and your contribution. A copy of the transcript will be coming your way in about a fortnight. Any typos that you discover in that transcript may be corrected but not matters of substance.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you.

Hansard: Victorian State Parliament Electoral Matters Committee

Victorian State Parliament – Electoral Matters Committee
Extract from Hansard dated August 23, 2011

The CHAIR — Are you appearing in a private capacity or representing an organisation? If so, which organisation?

Mr van der CRAATS — I am a member of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and of the Australian Labor Party, but the evidence that I give is of personal opinion.

The CHAIR — I ask you to begin your verbal submission, and we will take it from there.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Parliament. I do so with some reluctance, mainly because the last time I gave evidence to this committee I was subjected to what I consider to be harassment, intimidation and vilification by the chief electoral commissioner. It is a matter that I raised before with this committee, or the previous committee, and it failed to respond or to properly act. It is my belief that the actions taken by the chief electoral commissioner constitute contempt of Parliament, and I would like that this committee give further consideration to the complaints that I forwarded to the committee on previous occasions with the view of having the matter properly dealt with by an appropriate authority. I will raise this later in my submission, particularly with respect to item 4 and in relation to the role of the Ombudsman and the electoral commission as it is the Ombudsman that I believe is the appropriate body to review such complaints. However, this committee has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the parliamentary process, that the committee process is intact and that witnesses are not subjected to some form of harassment or intimidation as a result of evidence given that may be detrimental to or critical of the conduct of the election’s process.

Having said those points of view, I wish to raise a number of issues, in particular in respect of the scrutiny of the ballot and the method of counting optional, preferential and other matters. My main concern at this stage is the scrutiny of the ballot and the way in which the Victorian Legislative Council election is counted. Scrutineers were denied access to the data entry data file as and when the data was being entered into the computer. This meant that the scrutineers had no means of properly validating the integrity of the data file. The information was only provided at the conclusion of the count and, as a result, it had to be taken at face value.

There is no justification or rationale as to why that information could not have been progressively published as the data was being recorded. In fact to have done so would have ensured that the process was open and transparent and that the scrutineers had a chance to monitor the data as it proceeded. It would have also ensured that the data had not been tampered with or altered as the election count progressed because people would have had copies and they could have gone back to see if any changes had occurred.

I think this is an important issue, and it is a fundamental one that the committee must address in respect of the drafting of regulations. It has become quite clear and apparent that the Victorian Electoral Commission is incapable, unwilling or does not desire to ensure that this process is open and transparent. This is a matter about which I have had some disagreement and conflict with the Victorian Electoral Commission going back nearly 20 years to when we first involved ourselves in the data entry computerised counting system. I think there is a trend towards computerised counting of elections, and I think that should be welcomed, but it should not be at the expense of openness and transparency. Obviously those candidates who win an election have no need to complain, but those candidates who feel that the system may not have properly fulfilled their requirements or that it was not as open and transparent as it should have been would be perceived as sore losers if they persisted in putting forward their complaints. I watched with great interest the conduct of the 2006 state election. I think many of the members of this Parliament are aware of the errors and the problems related to the way in which that was conducted and counted. There are still a number of unanswered questions in respect of the 2006 election which have not been properly addressed.

However, in reflecting on the 2010 election, there were some improvements. The data file that was eventually provided provided the information pertaining to the preliminary and secondary count. This was useful information and allowed some form of comparisons to the data quality of the data entry that was recorded. It was noted quite significantly that data quality in the 2010 election was significantly better than the data quality that occurred in the 2006 election. However, it was marred by the fact that the Victorian Electoral Commission failed to provide copies of that data file as it was progressively being built up. It was requested. A number of scrutineers I know from the Labor Party requested the Victorian Electoral Commission provide access to that data. They were refused this information. That, in my view, denied them the right to properly scrutinise the election.

It is probably incumbent on the Parliament to look closer at the roles and obligations of the scrutineer and what their role specifically is in terms of where and when they cannot interact with the counting process to oversee it. At the moment it is fairly well left open to the goodwill of the electoral commission to interpret what they consider to be fair or not fair. Unfortunately I do not believe the Victorian Electoral Commission has acted necessarily in good faith, and I do not believe that it has implemented procedures that ensure that the process is open and transparent. The publication of the data file progressively as the count progresses goes a long way to meeting that requirement and my concerns.

The next issue I wish to raise, which I have tried raising on previous occasions, is related to the method of counting that is under the legislation of the Electoral Act. There are a number of deficiencies and errors, in my view, in the way in which the election is counted. These deficiencies and errors came about as a result of a manual counting system. Under the manual counting system there were a number of shortcuts that were introduced into the way in which the count was made, and these were done to facilitate the speed, effort and manageability of a manual count. At the time they were considered to be a fair and reasonable compromise to make. However, with the advent and the use of computer technology we need to really review the methodology that we use to count the vote. There is no need to take these shortcuts. In fact the number of shortcuts that we have implemented really distort the outcome of the election process.

I think that is fairly evident when you analysed the Queensland 2007 Senate election. In that particular instance the segmentation of the vote, the way in which excluded candidates’ preferences were redistributed resulted in, in my view, the wrong candidate being elected to the last position on the Queensland Senate. In analysis of the vote that took place in 2007, if you took the last remaining seven candidates in the count and you redistributed the entire ballot paper according to only those seven candidates standing, the Greens candidate, Larissa Waters, should have been elected. This is an error of process due primarily to the shortcuts and segmentation that we implemented to try make it easy to do a manual count. They are no longer required under a data entry process.

I urge the committee to seriously consider the counting rules to make sure that they are a little more accurate and a little more representative of the voter’s intention. I have outlined those under the system which we have referred to as the ‘Wright’ system. Effectively it is a reiterative counting system that every time there is an exclusion you start the count again as though that candidate had never stood. It effectively mirrors the similar process that takes place in a single-member electorate, which I am sure you are all familiar with.

The other issue I wish to raise is optional preferential voting. The first time it was introduced was in 2010. In my view optional preferential voting is misleading in terms of the voter. The way in which the electoral commission sold and promoted optional preferential voting was that it in fact encouraged voters to put 1 to 5 only on the ballot paper. This disadvantaged and disenfranchised many voters. Those people who may have favoured a particular group or segment of the community stopped at the end of their 5 votes, and the result is that those who remained in the count had a greater say as to the outcome of that election.

I think optional preferential voting needs to be seriously looked at. Personally I do not agree with that. I think you are wasting your vote by exhausting your vote, particularly after no. 5. The aim, if your vote is not counted, is that you should have the opportunity to choose an alternative candidate. I think it is incumbent on the electoral commission to encourage voters to maximise their vote, not to cut it short, not to make it simpler for their data entry process. I think it would be more appropriate and more accurate if the Victorian Electoral Commission stated quite clearly that people should vote or indicate a preference for every candidate, and not just stop at 5. That is an issue I again urge the committee to look at.

In respect of the silent enrolment entitlement, I registered to vote on the day before the election day when I submitted my documentation at the polling place, which included a silent enrolment form. Unfortunately my documentation was lost and, as I understand it, my vote was not counted. I think this boils down to some concerns over the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. I believe that everybody has a right to nominate whether they wish to be on a silent enrolment or not. This would be best facilitated if there was just a tick-box on the application form. Anyone who wanted to enrolled to vote could decide whether or not they want their names listed. It is simpler, more straightforward, and it is certainly more cost effective.

Other issues and concerns relate to the overall duplication that is involved in maintaining a state electoral authority. What we are seeing in across-borders Australia is something like $35 million being spent on duplication of resources. We are seeing vast amounts of money being spent on development of software. It is software which is being duplicated in each state, each territory and each jurisdiction. There should be a lot more coordination and liaison going on. I also believe it would be probably more efficient if we had a centralised Australian Electoral Commission where the states had some input through the form of a board of directors or something like that. A single electoral authority can act professionally, with integrity and certainly have the cost benefits that would come with having a single organisation. Vast amounts of money have been spent on the electoral process, and we could save hundreds of millions of dollars by restructuring and reorganising the way in which the states’ electoral processes are delivered.

Point 4 is an issue of great concern to me. Currently under the Ombudsman Act the Victorian Electoral Commission is excluded from the Ombudsman reviewing it. This has implications with respect to freedom of information. It has implications with respect to people who have complaints about the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. The position of Ombudsman is in place to allow various administrative complaints to be considered outside the political arena. It is difficult, I understand, and this is the problem I think the previous committee had, to address issues that may be perceived to be of a political nature, particularly when dealing with the umpire — that is, the Victorian Electoral Commission. Having reviewed and considered the role of the Ombudsman, particularly in view of the number of complaints I have had in respect to the Victorian electoral commissioner, I believe the Ombudsman is the appropriate person that people should have the right to go to to have these issues properly investigated. I do not see any justification for prohibiting the Ombudsman from reviewing the role of the Victorian electoral commissioner on administrative matters. The Ombudsman has the role of reviewing the Victorian police commissioner, and I think he should have the same role of reviewing the Victorian electoral commission.

My final point of concern is in respect to the 2008 municipal elections. Again this was a failure of the previous committee. It failed to review or provide an opportunity for people to have some input into a review of the municipal elections. There are a number of commonalities that exist between the state and municipal elections but many of them have not been properly addressed. The disclosure of the data entry file as an election progresses is one of them. Municipal elections also have another aspect to them that state elections do not have, and that is the countback system. In reviewing the countback system for the City of Melbourne election which recently occurred as a result of Peter Clarke’s resignation, I became aware of a number of deficiencies in the technicalities of the way in which the countback process has been undertaken. Rather than take that up in detail — because I have not canvassed that particular issue in my submission — I would urge this committee as a matter of urgency prior to the 2012 municipal elections to undertake a review of the 2008 elections and see what comes out of that review.

The CHAIR — Thank you very much. Any questions?

Ms RYALL — Anthony, you mentioned the difference between data quality between the two — —

Mr van der CRAATS — Count A and count B.

Ms RYALL — Yes. What indicated to you that there was a difference?

Mr van der CRAATS — You can do a comparison between the first data and the second data, a direct comparison, and you can get an idea of where the preferences may have changed as a result of data entry error.

In the 2006 election the Victorian Electoral Commission refused to provide copies of the preliminary data entry, therefore it was impossible to make a comparison with the final data entry, so I had no idea where the changes occurred.

Ms RYALL — So when you suggested that there were data quality differences, that was an assumption. Is that correct?

Mr van der CRAATS — No, the records differ. You can see a very clear difference in the record data set itself, the preferences that are written there. For example, in some cases a preference might have been recorded as a ‘050’, or it may have been a ‘50’, or it may have been a ‘5’. I do not know how the systems interpret it; we did not have access to that information. The number of areas that we did identify in the 2010 election were not significant, certainly not enough to warrant a change or closer scrutiny of the vote itself. The time that would be required, obviously, to do that would not be justified by any benefit it would produce.

In the 2006 election that was not necessarily the case, particularly in Western Metropolitan Region. Not having access to that preliminary data and the secondary data, I think, was a major deficiency. The Victorian Electoral Commission at the time claimed that the preliminary data had been destroyed or overwritten. I find that extraordinary and very difficult to believe. As a systems IT person I would certainly have backup processes in place. If I have got data files that are worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to collate, I would certainly have backup copies of that information. Had we been able to do a cross-examination of the preliminary data and the secondary data, we would have realised where the changes occurred. All I can go off is what was published by the Victorian Electoral Commission, and in 2006 there was a discrepancy of 250 of the total number of votes recorded between count A and count B went missing. I can understand that mistakes occur, but I would like to know where those mistakes did occur, and the information published by the electoral commission did not make that clear. It concerns me greatly because in 2006 the change of the result between the first count and the second count was something like — you would remember this very clearly — 150 votes. I do not know where they went, and I am a very fastidious person when it comes to looking at data.

Ms RYALL — Thank you. Just one more question. You spoke of shortcuts. Can you give examples of those shortcuts?

Mr van der CRAATS — When you have got a group of ballot papers and you are excluding a candidate and some candidates are already elected, you skip past those candidates and you deliver the ballot paper to the next available candidate at a higher value. In a proper analysis of the way in which the count should be taken, those votes actually should be contributed to the candidate who was originally elected, or previously elected, to form part of their quota and therefore part of their surplus. That is a shortcut that we took. We said, ‘They’re already elected; we’ll skip them and we’ll dump the vote directly at a lower candidate on the preference pile’. This has the effect of upping the value of that vote — it is no longer equal to the other votes which have contributed to the previous person’s election. That is one shortcut.

Another shortcut occurs in the way in which we distribute surpluses. We do similar things, we skip candidates.

We end up delivering votes in that process. It gets down to the segmentation. If we are distributing the votes, we stop at the point when we have distributed one particular pile of votes. For example, if a candidate has been excluded, they may have six different segmented vote piles: primary votes, secondary primary votes and subsidiary surplus. We distribute them each separately, and that can have a dramatic impact in terms of calculating the transfer value that takes place. This is all related of course to the upper house. These are shortcuts that facilitate a manual count. In a computerised count we can take the time quite readily because we are talking about 3 hours as opposed to 20 minutes to count an election using a computerised algorithm. Do you understand?

Ms RYALL — Thank you.

The CHAIR — There being no further questions, thank you very much, Mr van der Craats, for your time today and your contribution. A copy of the transcript will be coming your way in about a fortnight. Any typos that you discover in that transcript may be corrected but not matters of substance.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you.

Hansard: Victorian State Parliament Electoral Matters Committee

Victorian State Parliament – Electoral Matters Committee
Extract from Hansard dated August 23, 2011

The CHAIR — Are you appearing in a private capacity or representing an organisation? If so, which organisation?

Mr van der CRAATS — I am a member of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and of the Australian Labor Party, but the evidence that I give is of personal opinion.

The CHAIR — I ask you to begin your verbal submission, and we will take it from there.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Parliament. I do so with some reluctance, mainly because the last time I gave evidence to this committee I was subjected to what I consider to be harassment, intimidation and vilification by the chief electoral commissioner. It is a matter that I raised before with this committee, or the previous committee, and it failed to respond or to properly act. It is my belief that the actions taken by the chief electoral commissioner constitute contempt of Parliament, and I would like that this committee give further consideration to the complaints that I forwarded to the committee on previous occasions with the view of having the matter properly dealt with by an appropriate authority. I will raise this later in my submission, particularly with respect to item 4 and in relation to the role of the Ombudsman and the electoral commission as it is the Ombudsman that I believe is the appropriate body to review such complaints. However, this committee has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the parliamentary process, that the committee process is intact and that witnesses are not subjected to some form of harassment or intimidation as a result of evidence given that may be detrimental to or critical of the conduct of the election’s process.

Having said those points of view, I wish to raise a number of issues, in particular in respect of the scrutiny of the ballot and the method of counting optional, preferential and other matters. My main concern at this stage is the scrutiny of the ballot and the way in which the Victorian Legislative Council election is counted. Scrutineers were denied access to the data entry data file as and when the data was being entered into the computer. This meant that the scrutineers had no means of properly validating the integrity of the data file. The information was only provided at the conclusion of the count and, as a result, it had to be taken at face value.

There is no justification or rationale as to why that information could not have been progressively published as the data was being recorded. In fact to have done so would have ensured that the process was open and transparent and that the scrutineers had a chance to monitor the data as it proceeded. It would have also ensured that the data had not been tampered with or altered as the election count progressed because people would have had copies and they could have gone back to see if any changes had occurred.

I think this is an important issue, and it is a fundamental one that the committee must address in respect of the drafting of regulations. It has become quite clear and apparent that the Victorian Electoral Commission is incapable, unwilling or does not desire to ensure that this process is open and transparent. This is a matter about which I have had some disagreement and conflict with the Victorian Electoral Commission going back nearly 20 years to when we first involved ourselves in the data entry computerised counting system. I think there is a trend towards computerised counting of elections, and I think that should be welcomed, but it should not be at the expense of openness and transparency. Obviously those candidates who win an election have no need to complain, but those candidates who feel that the system may not have properly fulfilled their requirements or that it was not as open and transparent as it should have been would be perceived as sore losers if they persisted in putting forward their complaints. I watched with great interest the conduct of the 2006 state election. I think many of the members of this Parliament are aware of the errors and the problems related to the way in which that was conducted and counted. There are still a number of unanswered questions in respect of the 2006 election which have not been properly addressed.

However, in reflecting on the 2010 election, there were some improvements. The data file that was eventually provided provided the information pertaining to the preliminary and secondary count. This was useful information and allowed some form of comparisons to the data quality of the data entry that was recorded. It was noted quite significantly that data quality in the 2010 election was significantly better than the data quality that occurred in the 2006 election. However, it was marred by the fact that the Victorian Electoral Commission failed to provide copies of that data file as it was progressively being built up. It was requested. A number of scrutineers I know from the Labor Party requested the Victorian Electoral Commission provide access to that data. They were refused this information. That, in my view, denied them the right to properly scrutinise the election.

It is probably incumbent on the Parliament to look closer at the roles and obligations of the scrutineer and what their role specifically is in terms of where and when they cannot interact with the counting process to oversee it. At the moment it is fairly well left open to the goodwill of the electoral commission to interpret what they consider to be fair or not fair. Unfortunately I do not believe the Victorian Electoral Commission has acted necessarily in good faith, and I do not believe that it has implemented procedures that ensure that the process is open and transparent. The publication of the data file progressively as the count progresses goes a long way to meeting that requirement and my concerns.

The next issue I wish to raise, which I have tried raising on previous occasions, is related to the method of counting that is under the legislation of the Electoral Act. There are a number of deficiencies and errors, in my view, in the way in which the election is counted. These deficiencies and errors came about as a result of a manual counting system. Under the manual counting system there were a number of shortcuts that were introduced into the way in which the count was made, and these were done to facilitate the speed, effort and manageability of a manual count. At the time they were considered to be a fair and reasonable compromise to make. However, with the advent and the use of computer technology we need to really review the methodology that we use to count the vote. There is no need to take these shortcuts. In fact the number of shortcuts that we have implemented really distort the outcome of the election process.

I think that is fairly evident when you analysed the Queensland 2007 Senate election. In that particular instance the segmentation of the vote, the way in which excluded candidates’ preferences were redistributed resulted in, in my view, the wrong candidate being elected to the last position on the Queensland Senate. In analysis of the vote that took place in 2007, if you took the last remaining seven candidates in the count and you redistributed the entire ballot paper according to only those seven candidates standing, the Greens candidate, Larissa Waters, should have been elected. This is an error of process due primarily to the shortcuts and segmentation that we implemented to try make it easy to do a manual count. They are no longer required under a data entry process.

I urge the committee to seriously consider the counting rules to make sure that they are a little more accurate and a little more representative of the voter’s intention. I have outlined those under the system which we have referred to as the ‘Wright’ system. Effectively it is a reiterative counting system that every time there is an exclusion you start the count again as though that candidate had never stood. It effectively mirrors the similar process that takes place in a single-member electorate, which I am sure you are all familiar with.

The other issue I wish to raise is optional preferential voting. The first time it was introduced was in 2010. In my view optional preferential voting is misleading in terms of the voter. The way in which the electoral commission sold and promoted optional preferential voting was that it in fact encouraged voters to put 1 to 5 only on the ballot paper. This disadvantaged and disenfranchised many voters. Those people who may have favoured a particular group or segment of the community stopped at the end of their 5 votes, and the result is that those who remained in the count had a greater say as to the outcome of that election.

I think optional preferential voting needs to be seriously looked at. Personally I do not agree with that. I think you are wasting your vote by exhausting your vote, particularly after no. 5. The aim, if your vote is not counted, is that you should have the opportunity to choose an alternative candidate. I think it is incumbent on the electoral commission to encourage voters to maximise their vote, not to cut it short, not to make it simpler for their data entry process. I think it would be more appropriate and more accurate if the Victorian Electoral Commission stated quite clearly that people should vote or indicate a preference for every candidate, and not just stop at 5. That is an issue I again urge the committee to look at.

In respect of the silent enrolment entitlement, I registered to vote on the day before the election day when I submitted my documentation at the polling place, which included a silent enrolment form. Unfortunately my documentation was lost and, as I understand it, my vote was not counted. I think this boils down to some concerns over the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. I believe that everybody has a right to nominate whether they wish to be on a silent enrolment or not. This would be best facilitated if there was just a tick-box on the application form. Anyone who wanted to enrolled to vote could decide whether or not they want their names listed. It is simpler, more straightforward, and it is certainly more cost effective.

Other issues and concerns relate to the overall duplication that is involved in maintaining a state electoral authority. What we are seeing in across-borders Australia is something like $35 million being spent on duplication of resources. We are seeing vast amounts of money being spent on development of software. It is software which is being duplicated in each state, each territory and each jurisdiction. There should be a lot more coordination and liaison going on. I also believe it would be probably more efficient if we had a centralised Australian Electoral Commission where the states had some input through the form of a board of directors or something like that. A single electoral authority can act professionally, with integrity and certainly have the cost benefits that would come with having a single organisation. Vast amounts of money have been spent on the electoral process, and we could save hundreds of millions of dollars by restructuring and reorganising the way in which the states’ electoral processes are delivered.

Point 4 is an issue of great concern to me. Currently under the Ombudsman Act the Victorian Electoral Commission is excluded from the Ombudsman reviewing it. This has implications with respect to freedom of information. It has implications with respect to people who have complaints about the administrative processes that are embarked upon by the Victorian Electoral Commission. The position of Ombudsman is in place to allow various administrative complaints to be considered outside the political arena. It is difficult, I understand, and this is the problem I think the previous committee had, to address issues that may be perceived to be of a political nature, particularly when dealing with the umpire — that is, the Victorian Electoral Commission. Having reviewed and considered the role of the Ombudsman, particularly in view of the number of complaints I have had in respect to the Victorian electoral commissioner, I believe the Ombudsman is the appropriate person that people should have the right to go to to have these issues properly investigated. I do not see any justification for prohibiting the Ombudsman from reviewing the role of the Victorian electoral commissioner on administrative matters. The Ombudsman has the role of reviewing the Victorian police commissioner, and I think he should have the same role of reviewing the Victorian electoral commission.

My final point of concern is in respect to the 2008 municipal elections. Again this was a failure of the previous committee. It failed to review or provide an opportunity for people to have some input into a review of the municipal elections. There are a number of commonalities that exist between the state and municipal elections but many of them have not been properly addressed. The disclosure of the data entry file as an election progresses is one of them. Municipal elections also have another aspect to them that state elections do not have, and that is the countback system. In reviewing the countback system for the City of Melbourne election which recently occurred as a result of Peter Clarke’s resignation, I became aware of a number of deficiencies in the technicalities of the way in which the countback process has been undertaken. Rather than take that up in detail — because I have not canvassed that particular issue in my submission — I would urge this committee as a matter of urgency prior to the 2012 municipal elections to undertake a review of the 2008 elections and see what comes out of that review.

The CHAIR — Thank you very much. Any questions?

Ms RYALL — Anthony, you mentioned the difference between data quality between the two — —

Mr van der CRAATS — Count A and count B.

Ms RYALL — Yes. What indicated to you that there was a difference?

Mr van der CRAATS — You can do a comparison between the first data and the second data, a direct comparison, and you can get an idea of where the preferences may have changed as a result of data entry error.

In the 2006 election the Victorian Electoral Commission refused to provide copies of the preliminary data entry, therefore it was impossible to make a comparison with the final data entry, so I had no idea where the changes occurred.

Ms RYALL — So when you suggested that there were data quality differences, that was an assumption. Is that correct?

Mr van der CRAATS — No, the records differ. You can see a very clear difference in the record data set itself, the preferences that are written there. For example, in some cases a preference might have been recorded as a ‘050’, or it may have been a ‘50’, or it may have been a ‘5’. I do not know how the systems interpret it; we did not have access to that information. The number of areas that we did identify in the 2010 election were not significant, certainly not enough to warrant a change or closer scrutiny of the vote itself. The time that would be required, obviously, to do that would not be justified by any benefit it would produce.

In the 2006 election that was not necessarily the case, particularly in Western Metropolitan Region. Not having access to that preliminary data and the secondary data, I think, was a major deficiency. The Victorian Electoral Commission at the time claimed that the preliminary data had been destroyed or overwritten. I find that extraordinary and very difficult to believe. As a systems IT person I would certainly have backup processes in place. If I have got data files that are worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to collate, I would certainly have backup copies of that information. Had we been able to do a cross-examination of the preliminary data and the secondary data, we would have realised where the changes occurred. All I can go off is what was published by the Victorian Electoral Commission, and in 2006 there was a discrepancy of 250 of the total number of votes recorded between count A and count B went missing. I can understand that mistakes occur, but I would like to know where those mistakes did occur, and the information published by the electoral commission did not make that clear. It concerns me greatly because in 2006 the change of the result between the first count and the second count was something like — you would remember this very clearly — 150 votes. I do not know where they went, and I am a very fastidious person when it comes to looking at data.

Ms RYALL — Thank you. Just one more question. You spoke of shortcuts. Can you give examples of those shortcuts?

Mr van der CRAATS — When you have got a group of ballot papers and you are excluding a candidate and some candidates are already elected, you skip past those candidates and you deliver the ballot paper to the next available candidate at a higher value. In a proper analysis of the way in which the count should be taken, those votes actually should be contributed to the candidate who was originally elected, or previously elected, to form part of their quota and therefore part of their surplus. That is a shortcut that we took. We said, ‘They’re already elected; we’ll skip them and we’ll dump the vote directly at a lower candidate on the preference pile’. This has the effect of upping the value of that vote — it is no longer equal to the other votes which have contributed to the previous person’s election. That is one shortcut.

Another shortcut occurs in the way in which we distribute surpluses. We do similar things, we skip candidates.

We end up delivering votes in that process. It gets down to the segmentation. If we are distributing the votes, we stop at the point when we have distributed one particular pile of votes. For example, if a candidate has been excluded, they may have six different segmented vote piles: primary votes, secondary primary votes and subsidiary surplus. We distribute them each separately, and that can have a dramatic impact in terms of calculating the transfer value that takes place. This is all related of course to the upper house. These are shortcuts that facilitate a manual count. In a computerised count we can take the time quite readily because we are talking about 3 hours as opposed to 20 minutes to count an election using a computerised algorithm. Do you understand?

Ms RYALL — Thank you.

The CHAIR — There being no further questions, thank you very much, Mr van der Craats, for your time today and your contribution. A copy of the transcript will be coming your way in about a fortnight. Any typos that you discover in that transcript may be corrected but not matters of substance.

Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you.

Beyond Review: Parliamentary Committee failed to subject the VEC to oversight by the Ombudsman

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has published its report on the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

In its report the Committee has made a number of recommendations in relation to the operation of the Human Rights charter. What was of considerable note was the Committee’s failure to address issues of concern in relation to the Ombudsman’s oversight

The Ombudsman plays a significant role in the oversight of government administration. the office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate body to oversee the administration of state authorities.

The Committee in its recommendations made two references to the Ombudsman

Recommendation 6

Complaints to the Ombudsman

If the Charter is retained, then SARC recommends that public authorities who are subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction be encouraged to inform people who bring internal complaints that the Ombudsman may be able to investigate any unresolved complaints, including complaints concerning Charter rights.

Recommendation 33

Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

If s. 13(1A) of the Ombudsman Act 1973 is retained, then SARC recommends that it be amended so as to specify the range of bodies that can be subject to an enquiry or investigation with respect to human rights.

The Committee also noted:

Complaints to the Ombudsman.

The Consultation Committee considered that the Ombudsman already had the power to handle human rights complaints, but recommended clarifying that it could consider Charter rights.

What the Committee failed to address was the provision of the Victorian Ombudsman Act that prevents the Ombudsman from reviewing the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). s 13(3)(ca)

The Victorian Electoral Commission is not subjected to the Ombudsman Act, it is exempt, and as such the Ombudsman has no oversight over the VEC’s administrative misuse and abuse. The only avenue of review is the Courts, VCAT and the Parliament itself.

The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over a range of government authorities including the Victoria Police and Local Government in respect to administrative issues, why not the VEC?

Complaints against the VEC go unaddressed, The Parliament is reluctant to consider in detail any complaints against the VEC for fear of being seen to be partisan in its deliberations. It is incapable of considering any complaints of an administrative matter let alone misuse and abuse under the Human Rights Charter or abuses under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee failed to address this issue of concern and failed to recommend removing the VEC’s exemption under the Victorian Ombudsman Act.

Whilst the Committee has recognised the role the Ombudsman plays in protection of Human Rights and government oversight it failed to address this essential issue of concern.

Last year a petition was tabled in the parliament calling for the Ombudsman act to be amended to resume the VEC exclusion from review by the Ombudsman.

Recommendation 6 and 33 of the Committee’s report does not apply to the VEC as the Ombudsman cannot review any actions of the Victorian Electoral Commission.

The Victorian Electoral Commission remains unaccountable and beyond review.