Votes lost, police called in WA Senate race
The Australian Electoral Commission has today confirmed it misplaced 1375 ballot forms, and has delayed announcing the complete make-up of the Western Australian Senate as a result.
Electoral Commission administrators realised the votes were missing while conducting a recount prompted by the close initial Senate result.
The AEC has called in former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Keelty to conduct an inquiry. His terms of reference include establishing the facts on the misplaced ballot papers, identifying which administrative process or procedure failed, and how to avoid having it happen again.
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.”
Special Mininster of State Michael Ronaldson ha claimed ministerial responsibility for the situation, saying; “I have personally expressed to the Electoral Commissioner my strong view that this situation is totally unsatisfactory and that I...view this matter very dimly.”
The outcome for the seats of Palmer United Palmer Senator-elect Dio Wang and Labor's Louise Pratt have now been thrown into uncertainty.
Leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, has accused the AEC of “interfering in politics” by “trying to rig the election... to stop our party from having the balance of power.”
“There needs to be a full judicial inquiry into the AEC officers that have been involved in this fiasco,” Mr Palmer said.
“How do you lose ballot papers that are supposed to be kept secure under the law?”
“The AEC may have burned them - who knows? Or put them in a rubbish bin or shredded them,” he said, speculating wildly.
Even being elected in to his own Queensland seat of Fairfax was not enough to placate the magnate. The Australian Electoral Commission is expected to make the official announcement on Friday after completing its latest recount for Fairfax.
Palmer says though he is extremely grateful for those who voted in his favour, the entire system still has flaws.
“In the seat of Fairfax, the first count I won by 36 votes, the second count I won by seven votes, and now I have won by 53 votes,” he said
“Those counts are not the same, so some of them must be wrong... I have to look at the facts. It's a corrupt process, there's no doubt about that.”
The AEC has said the result of the Western Australian Senate recount will be announced “shortly”. The Electoral Commission also said it will consider whether to involve the Court of Disputed Returns, which makes determinations on the validity of elections.