Thursday, 27 May 2010

The accuracy of our Electoral Roll

is apparently going to be reviewed in a parliamentary inquiry of some sort. This has been instigated by a member of the state's Legislative Council. I do wonder whether it will get very far - and I am not sure whether that is the real problem.
I did not vote one year. This was not through any fault of my own. I had moved from Canberra to Melbourne. Being a dutiful citizen I had filled out the necessary form advising of my change of address and, even more dutifully, delivered it to the correct address. Come election time I was not on the right part of the roll. Someone in the Electoral Office had failed to do their job. For weeks afterwards I waited for a "please explain" notice. It never came so I can only assume that someone at the polling booth had done their job and passed on notification of the fact that I had at least attempted to vote. Or, did someone vote in my name?
There was also an election very shortly after my mother died. In all the chaos surrounding that event we had not then informed the Electoral Office that my mother's name should no longer be on the roll. Again we waited for a "please explain" notice. It never came. I eventually informed the Electoral Office of her death about three months later. Nothing was said about whether she had voted or not. Or, did someone vote in my mother's name?
An elderly neighbour also failed to vote one year. She told me the following day that she had just forgotten until it was too late. I told her not to worry and 'phoned the Electoral Office on her behalf. I was told she would get a "please explain" notice. It never came. Did someone vote in her name?
The Monday after this late state election someone told me that his neighbour had "nipped down and voted for a neighbour as well - so that they would not get fined". The neighbour in question had been called interstate by a family emergency a couple of days before. Someone did vote in his name. Did they know how he intended to vote? Did they honour that? Who knows?
I once knew someone whose proud boast was that he had never been on the Electoral Roll. He said he did not want the government to know where he was. He was eventually sectioned due to a severe mental illness. To the best of my knowledge he is still not on the Electoral Roll.
Another friend asked for her husband to be removed from the Electoral Roll. He had Alzheimer's and no longer knew what he was doing. She included a doctor's certificate in the application. His name was not removed and they did get a "please explain" notice. It caused her considerable distress.
I know of others who should not be on the Electoral Roll. They do not understand the voting process. They cannot read the ballot papers. Their names are there and, all too often, other people use their vote.
In our highly mobile society people have sometimes moved to another electorate, moved interstate or even overseas. Their names are still there too. If someone knows about this then it is a simple matter to walk in and use their vote - after all, you do not need ID to vote and nobody asks you to dip your finger into indelible ink.
The Electoral Roll is so corrupted that it would, despite occasional attempts to update it, take an entirely new system to begin to get it anywhere near to accurate.
I wish the inquiry the best of luck. I also wonder what it says about the validity of our elections.


Rachel Fenton said...

I think a new system is probably the only solution though...really don't know where to begin on the utter bonkersness of the whole's like something out of a daft dystopian novel....feel like I've wandered into the twilight zone when I read about your government! Only it isn't just yours which is like this, is it?! Bonkers, bonkers, bonkers!
"Please explain"!!!

catdownunder said...

I cannot explain!