FOI Application required to obtain detailed election results for State Election VEC brought to account

In followup to our numerous requests for information and details of the Victorian State Election we have found it necessary to have to submit and FOI application to obtain a copy of the detailed elections results of last months State Poll.

The conduct of the election undertaken by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) was a shame and has brought Victoria in to disrepute.

Nick Economu, election analyst and political commentator, has described the conduct of the count as a “farcical”. That was putting it mildly. We would say highly unprofessional if not incompetent, lacking in openness and transparency. Information crucial to the conduct of the election was denied and the VEC continues to avoid public scrutiny and review by failing to publish the various count sheets and detailed preference data.

We were constantly being told that the software used in computerized vote counting system had been certified and that safeguards were in place to avoid and limit mistakes in a data-entry. That turned out to be false. As history often proves man is not infallible and the VEC most certainly has failed to live up to the expectations and requirement for an open and transparent election.

Rob Hulls, Victoria’s Attorney General and Minister responsible for the Victorian Electoral Commission and the Freedom of Information Act, stated in his annual FOI report: The existence of the FOI Act should not mean that the formal process provided under it is the only means of obtaining access to documents or information of an agency. “

Section 123 of the Victorian Electoral Act 2002 states:

123. Election information

(1) The number of first preference votes given for each candidate and the details of distribution of preference votes must be available from the office of the Commission.

The refusal of the VEC to publish this information, as requested, is an abuse of the system and denial of open and transparent elections.

VEC receipt of payment for FOI application fee

— Copy of FOI request delieverd to to the VEC today —

Thursday December 21, 2006

Sue Lang
Manager Communication, Education and Research Branch
Information Officer

Victorian Electoral Commission

Re: Freedom of Information Request

Dear Sue

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I wish to request the following information –

  1. Victorian State Election November 2006

    1.1. Copies of all count sheets in respect to all electorates for the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Victorian Legislative Council
    1.2. Copies of all recorded electronic data files detailing the ballot papers preference allocations used to determine the results of each election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council
    1.3. Copies of all polling place returns showing the number of ballot papers issued and the number of first preferences allocated for each candidate for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council
  2. Copies of all certification documents related to the software used in the conduct of the Victorian State election used in the tabulation and calculation of the elections results.

I have previously requested this information, to which the Victorian Electoral Commission to date has failed to respond.

The above, as requested information is a public document and should be readily available to members of the public for independent review and assessment.

It is in the public interest that this information is made available and that the results and the conduct of the election are open and transparent.

In addition, as this information is in the public interest and should be readily available to public, I request that the fee for this Freedom of Information Application be waived. However, in case you do not allow this, I enclose the required $21.50.

I draw you attention to the following:

Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal in 1999 (van der Craats v City of Melbourne [2000] VCAT 447 (29 January 2000) VICTORIAN CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL General List No. 1999/057919)

I request that the above information be provided without delay.

In the event that the Victorian Electoral Commission refuses in the first instance to provide this information I request that immediate internal review undertaken and if required I am prepared to have this matter refered to the Victorian State Parliament, Victorian State Ombudsman and the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal for review.

Should you require further I can be contacted via return email or telephone (03) 9016 3654

Yours faithfully

Anthony van der Craats