Boys with Toys VEC denies Melbourne the opportunity to effectively scrutinise the election of Lord Mayor

The Victorian Electoral Commission to is set to deny proper and effective scrutiny of the Municipal ballot – setting the scene for a repeat of the mistakes made in conduct of the 2006 State Election.

The Victorian Electoral Commission intends on using a computerised counting system to count single-member electorates and in the process will limit opportunity for the proper and detailed scrutiny of the ballot which in turn brings the electoral system into disrepute.

There is no justification for a the use of a computerised count for single-member electorates or the City of Melbourne ‘Lord Mayor’ Leadership Team.

In multi-member electorates a computerised count can assist in the filling of casual vacancies but there is no advantage in conducting a computerised count for single-member elections. Any savings in time comes at the expense of the scrutiny of the ballot. We could very much see a repeat of the mistakes made by the Victorian Electoral Commission during the 2006 State Election. In many cases it is quicker to count the ballot manually tehn by a data-entry tabulation.

Unlike the State Election the Victorian Electoral Commission will not pre-sort ballot papers into primary votes before subjecting the ballots to a computerised data-entry count.

The process adopted by the Victorian Electoral Commission is akin to the three shells and a pea used by con artists. A ball is placed and hidden under a shell and then the shells are rotated and mixed-up and the punter has to guess which shell the pea is under.

Ballot papers will be randomly collated and batched before preferences are transcribed and data-entered into a computer. Whilst scrutineers will have the limited opportunity to observe the data-entry process they will not be able to effectively observe all ballot papers.

The quality of the count would be better if single-member electorates where counted manually as it provides more opportunity for the proper scrutiny of the ballot. By pre-sorting the ballot papers into primary votes scrutineers can follow the count and focus their attention on the votes that count. The randomisation of the data-entry process prevents the proper scrutiny of the ballot.

The Victorian Electoral Commission does not use a system of double entry validation, instead they use what is referred to as random sampling quality checking. This system has a number of short comings which is unacceptable where the results of the election are likely to be close.

Radom sampleing is fine in a manufatoring process, where strict control is not required but it would be unaceptable for a bank to use a random sampling process in the counting of money. It is also unacceptable in the counting of votes.

The time and resources required to undertake a computerised count for single-member electorates is the same, if not more, then a manual counting process. More important is that the quality of the count and the scrutiny of the ballot is significantly reduced as a result of a computerised count.

The use of a computerised counting system for single-member elections is a case of Boys with Toys.

The Victorian Electoral Commission has spent millions of dollars duplicating resources and developing a computerised counting system. having spent allthis money dupolicating systems atht are already used by the Australian Electoral Commison the VEC consider it is necessary to use the computersied counting software even though the results and savings in the process are minimal if not worst.

A computerised counting system should not be used for single member electorates.

Where a computerised count is undertaken, ballot papers should be pre-sorted into primary votes before being transcribed and data-entered into a computerised counting system.