Senate Election 'Again' In Western Australia
By Athena Yenko | February 21, 2014 3:46 PM EST
Back in September 2013 election, Senate positions in Western Australia were won by three Liberal Party members. But the position of the third Senator-elect Linda Reynolds was jeopardized. Zhenya Dio Wang of the Palmer United Party and Sen. Pratt won the final two seats.
But 1,375 ballots paper were lost and when the recount was made the final two seats were given to the Australian Sports Party's Wayne Dropulich and the Greens' Sen. Scott Ludlam.
The Australian Electoral Commission then petitioned for the September results be nullified.
On Thursday, Justice Kenneth Hayne, sitting as the Court of Dispute Returns ruled the results were void saying determining the winners was impossible as the number of the lost ballots went over the margin set to proclaim the winners among the candidates.
Western Australia will then be holding another senate election with its 1.5 million voters encouraged to vote again. The date is to be set by the government.
AEC, in its statement said, that it has upheld Mr. Hayne's ruling.
"The AEC acknowledges the order issued today by His Honour Justice Hayne sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns to void the 2013 Western Australian Senate election result.
... in accordance with the Australian Constitution and the requirements of the Western Australian Election of Senators Act 1903, an election of six senators for Western Australia will occur once a writ has been issued by His Excellency Mr Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, the Governor of Western Australia. A writ outlines all the key timings for the election including the dates for the close of the electoral roll, candidate nominations and for election day," AEC wrote in a statement.
"There is a balance-of-power Senate seat in play here. Don't let the back-room dealers decide your vote for you," Hayne's said.
Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson, meanwhile, criticized AEC for its negligence and that it should accept full responsibility for the lost ballots.
He said WA voters "will rightly be aggrieved that the actions of the Australian Electoral Commission will force them to vote again in a fresh election.''
"It is incumbent upon the Australian Electoral Commission to ensure that never again will such a failure of process occur, as it did with the 1370 lost votes,'' Ronaldson said.
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