On Thursday, Oct 31, 2013, The Australian Electoral Commission admitted that a serious administrative issue is under close scrutiny regarding the 1,375 votes missing for the Western Australia Senate count.
The said missing votes cannot be located, rechecked or verified.
AEC classified these missing ballots consisting of 1,255 formal above-the-line ballots and 120 informal votes.
"I am advised by Mr Kramer - and I have reassured myself - that exhaustive efforts have been made to find the missing ballots at all premises where WA Senate votes were stored or moved during the 2013 federal election," Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn said in a statement.
"On behalf of the AEC I apologise to the electors of Western Australia and to the candidates and parties for this failure of the AEC," he added.
Mr Killesteyn said that he has immediately initiated an urgent examination into the circumstances which led to the apparent misplaced ballot papers.
Mr Killesteyn assured everyone that the commission is conducting all pertinent investigations regarding the issue.
"I wish to advise that Mick Keelty AO APM, the distinguished former Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, has agreed to undertake this task. His terms of reference include establishing the facts regarding the misplaced ballot papers, and identifying any administrative process and/or procedural failures that may have occurred as well as providing recommendations to avoid similar issues in the future.I wish to stress that Mr Keelty will undertake this investigation independently of the AEC and will be able to avail himself of whatever resources and access staff and information he may require to assist his examination of this matter."
After the investigation, the report of the investigating body will be under review by the Electoral Commission and from there will decide the next step.
Missing votes can never be found
"We've looked methodically through all the premises where those votes were stored and where they were stored. We've exhaustively and comprehensively in WA in all the premises tracked where the votes have been, transported and so forth, and it's not until today - with all the last parcels of votes to be recounted opened - that that process of elimination has led us to the conclusion that they have been misplaced."
"At the moment unfortunately they have been misplaced and are unlikely to be located at this stage before we distribute the preferences and complete the declaration of the poll for the recount in Western Australia," he added.
Amidst all the reaction coming from government officials demanding for a recount or for people to come to polls and vote again, the High Court, as the Court of Disputed Returns, is expected to shed light to the matter.
According to Constitutional law expert, Professor Anne Twomey, the High Court will scrutinise all evidence and decide if having people to vote again would be the best decision.
"The High Court would consider practicalities, like the margins involved, when deciding if a fresh election is needed. Because the first count was so tight ... obviously the prospects of a High Court decision ordering a re-run ballot would be very high."
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