Hiding the count Victorian Electoral Commission refuses to publish details of 2005 Municipal Elections

Mr Ian Quick, President of t Save Our Suburbs, has written to the Victorian State Government and the Victorian Electoral Commission seeking copies of the recorded ballot paper preferences used to tabulate the results of the election. For spacious reason unknown the Victorian Electoral Commission has refused to make this information available. The failure of the Electoral Commission to publish this information in association with the results of the election undermines public confidence in the conduct of Victoria’s elections.

With the introduction of electronic computer based counting systems access to this information is vital to maintaining an honest, open and transparent electoral system.

The City of Melbourne in 1999 and 2001 tried unsuccessfully to prevent the release of this information. The Melbourne City Council spent over $60,000, acting under the misguided direction of Alison Lyons, Melbourne City Council’s Governance Officer in attempt to deny open and transparent scrutiny of the conduct of the Council’s elections. This matter was the subject of a successful appeal to the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal in 1999 (van der Craats v City fo Melbourne [2000] VCAT 447 (29 January 2000) VICTORIAN CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL General List No. 1999/057919)

The ruling of the tribunal requiring the City of Mlebourne and the Australian Electoral Commisison to release this information was made without reservation and was a clear indication that specious the argument put forward by the City of Melbourne was lacking substance and merit.

Why has the Victorian Electoral Commission refused to publish this information?

The VEC’s argument has no legal or administrative basis. Copies of the ballot prefence data file should be readily aviailable to the public and should form part of the declartion of the results of the election.

This issue has been back and forth with the Victorian Electoral Commission on a number of occasions.

Clearly the Victorian Electoral Commission in refusing to provide Mr Quick the information requested raises serious questions pertaining the conduct of Elections.

The need to provide open and transparent electoral procedures is important if public confidence in our electoral system is to be maintained. With the introduction of proportional representation in the election of the Legislative Council this issue needs to be resolved well before November State Election.