The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) will refer 8,000 cases of multiple voting during the September 2013 federal election. The decision is part of a new AEC policy aimed at eradicating multiple voting, Senate Estimates heard on Friday. AFP will then submit the cases to the director of Public Prosecutions for further investigation.
There were 2,000 voters who confessed of voting more than once for being drunk, confused or simply trying out the system and 6,000 voters who cited obscure reasons as to why they voted multiple times, Senate Estimates heard. Further, 10,000 multiple votes were blamed to official error.
"Previously when someone gave us one of those reasons, we accepted those and in many cases did not refer those to the AFP. The point of the new policy [is] that may well be a reason but frankly it's irrelevant in terms of the act. So all of those are being referred to the AFP regardless of reason provided. I expect that many of those will be genuine, acting Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said.
In 2010, only 19 cases of multiple voting were referred to AFP.
In February, 2,000 Australians confessed voting more than once, with an individual voting as many as 15 times. AEC was able to track 19,000 multiple voters around the time.
While the majority of the multiple votes were caused by clerical errors, AEC identified 128 people voting more than twice, 92 people voting three times and 22 people voting four times.
Liberal Senator Dean Smith said that he was willing to consider the excuses given by voters who cast ballots twice, thrice or even four times. What he cannot accept was that there were those who were able to cast ballots for six, nine, even twelve and up to fifteen times.
Multiple voting is defined by AEC as follows:
- impersonate any person with the intention of securing a ballot paper to which the impersonator is not entitled; or
- impersonate any person with the intention of voting in that other person's name; or fraudulently do an act that results in the destruction or defacement of any nomination or ballot paper; or
- fraudulently put any ballot paper or other paper into the ballot box; or
- fraudulently take any ballot paper out of any polling place or counting centre; or
- supply ballot papers without authority; or
- do an act that results in the unlawful destruction of, taking of, opening of, or interference with, ballot boxes or ballot papers.