Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Australian Electoral Commission

is apparently currently investigating "almost 19,000" cases of multiple voting. They claim most of those are due to "clerical error" and/or "misunderstanding" in the elderly, the illiterate or those who do not understand the process.
They are apparently referring "a small number of around 128" cases to the police for further investigation. Right.
Our elections are not fraud free or perfect. The decision to re-run the election for the Senate in Western Australia because of the "lost" ballot papers has shown up problems. The loss of those ballot papers was perhaps just a little too convenient.
I was talking to someone the other day. Her father voted twice. He was living in a nursing home. His daughter arranged a postal vote for him - and saw to it that he voted. Then a mobile team went to the nursing home and he voted again. He had by then forgotten that he had already voted. In his case I don't doubt it was genuine. He was getting very confused.
The AEC is to blame here. They should have mechanisms in place that prevent such things happening.
But I suggest that is the least of the problems faced by the AEC or the State Electoral Commission. Anyone can turn up and vote for anyone. All you need to do is turn up and state a name and address and say you have not previously voted in this election. Someone will mark the name off, pass over the ballot papers and the individual can enter a carrel and mark the papers. There is no form of identity check. How could there be? We don't have compulsory photo ID cards in Australia.
And the problem does not end there. There are multiple other ways of obtaining more than one vote, especially in nursing homes. A mobile unit may attend but, all too often, staff "assist" people who are no longer able to mark their own ballot papers. If someone is in hospital another member of the family or a friend will "vote for them". People see nothing wrong with this. "It's what they would do." But do they really know?
I know of someone who will have a vote in the forthcoming state election. In my opinion she will not know or understand what she is doing. Someone else will fill out the ballot papers for her because she can no longer do it herself. That person will claim she knows what the other person wants. To me that is not the point. The other person is no longer able to express such opinions. The right to vote is not one which should be lightly be removed - but in this case it should be because the individual is not able to make decisions about the simplest of matters let alone make a complex choice. It is not sufficient to say, "But this is what she has always done."  
I don't know how the Senior Cat votes. I can guess but I have never asked him. It is not my business. He does not know how I vote. Many people assume they know how I vote and would, no doubt, be willing to mark the ballot papers accordingly. They would almost certainly get it wrong.
Our electoral system is riddled with fraud. The notion that there were "almost 19,000" cases of multiple voting is almost certainly way off the mark - even 190,000 is probably an under-estimation.
Many of those would not see it as multiple voting or even believe they have done the wrong thing.
We need major changes to the system. They would be unpopular and are unlikely to happen any time soon.


Helen Devries said...

In the u.K. it seems to be a problem in that self appointed 'community leaders' 'help' people with their postal votes....

Anonymous said...

I guess we would find out if our name is crossed off twice or more times ... with 'please explain' notice or a knock at the door by police.