voter fraud

Canberra’s Voting Reform Failures Could Mean Fraud Swings the 2022 Election Result

4 March 2022

3.9 MINS

Crucial bills are being neglected that would require voter ID and stamp out voter fraud at this year’s election.  But few in Canberra are paying attention, and they may live to regret it.

Last month, the Daily Mail reported on several major changes to voting laws that will impact all Australians at the upcoming federal election. These include stronger regulations to prevent foreign interference, penalties for those who mislead voters, and a telephone voting option for those forced to isolate due to Covid-19.

The Need for Voter ID

But there are far more important voting reforms, desperately needed for several decades, that have been recommended by multiple audits but will likely not be passed before the election.

The next time federal Parliament sits will be on Tuesday 29th March, when the Treasurer presents the federal budget. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives will sit for two days that week. But according to the Parliamentary sitting calendar, it will be May before the Senate sits again, making it highly unlikely that further reforms can be voted in before the next election, which is going to occur about mid-May.

What are the other important reforms needed? Either of two bills that would require voters to present ID before being issued ballot papers would fix many voter fraud problems.

The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Integrity) Bill 2021 was tabled on the 28th of October last year and was adjourned. Introduced by Senator James McGrath, the second, the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Voter Identification) Bill 2022, was introduced on the 9th February 2022.

Neither of these important pieces of legislation is likely to be passed before the federal election, and so there is good reason to believe that voter fraud can possibly swing the upcoming election in favour of Labor, even if the polls show the Coalition ahead of the ALP on a two-party preferred basis.

A History of Close Calls

Elections often hang in the balance by a few votes, so a few hundred fraudulent votes in a few key marginal seats could swing the result.

Consider, for example, that despite the popular perception of a landslide win for Kevin Rudd in November 2007, if a mere 5,992 voters in six electorates had changed their minds, then Prime Minister John Howard’s government would have stayed in power.

In fact, I detected voter fraud at that very election. I lodged a statutory declaration after the 2007 federal election with evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that 200 of John Howards ballot papers went missing from the Epping West polling booth. Howard lost his seat by a narrow margin. I believe his loss may have been due to voter fraud if similar discrepancies took place at only a few other of the approximately 50 polling booths in Howard’s electorate.

Consider also that halfway though Labor’s six-year rule in 2007-2013, at the 2010 election, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was able to hang onto power in a minority government, supported by turncoats Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor. If only 1,092 people in just two electorates had voted differently that day, then-opposition leader Tony Abbott could have become Prime Minister, not needing Oakeshott or Windsor (with Bob Katter’s likely support).

Likewise, Neville Wran began his almost 12-year reign as NSW Premier in 1976 after winning by only around 20 votes in the seat of Hurstville, where I was living at that time. If 20 or more people had voted differently, he would not have won Hurstville or the NSW government.

I am ashamed to confess that my wife and I were two of the 20 votes. The electoral office had changed the time of close for voting from 8pm to 6pm, so I was busy gardening all day, went to vote a little after 6pm, and missed out!

Reducing Voter Fraud

The occurrence of multiple voting is a disgrace to Australia’s electoral system. 

It could easily be prevented by what the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) calls Electronic Certified Lists (ECLs), which does not mean voting by electronic means without paper ballot papers. ECLs mean that all polling booths are linked electronically to a central list in the same manner as ATMs are linked to a central bank account, so that once you have withdrawn all your money at one ATM you cannot go to another ATM and have a second go, since the central record has been updated.

Australia has compulsory voting, so that when a person gets issued with ballot papers, his or her name is crossed off on a paper electoral roll at that particular polling booth. Due to the lack of voter ID and the lack of ECLs, there is nothing to stop a person going to another polling booth and getting issued with another set of ballot papers, and getting their name crossed off there.

These paper rolls from all the polling booths are then sent to a contractor for optical scanning to detect (a) people who did not vote, and (b) those who appear to have voted more than once.

In the case of people who did not vote, they are sent a letter by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) demanding they pay a $20 fine. For those who have voted more than once, they are sent a letter asking for an explanation. But note that nobody has ever been prosecuted for multiple voting in Australian history!

Multiple Voting Happens

At the last several federal elections, the media, the AEC and people like myself have drawn attention to the occurrence of about 18,000 multiple voters.

But the situation is worse than that.  When I received exact data from the AEC in response to my request, I realised that the 18,343 in the 2016 federal election did not represent the number of multiple votes — it was the number of letters sent out by the AEC.

Receiving these letters were 18,343 people who seemed to have voted more than once. Assuming that each of these people voted twice, that represents 36,686 votes. If each had voted five times, we are talking about close to 100,000 votes.

Is it too late for the federal parliament to pass vital voting protections? Will voter frauds swing the outcome of this year’s election? We may be about to find out.

Image by Element5 Digital (Pexels)

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One Comment

  1. Mark 9 March 2022 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    I recall a case of someone being prosecuted for voting twice. A man had told his wife that he was not going to vote so she got her son to impersonate him and vote on his behalf but he later changed his mind and voted anyway. Technically, the son was fined for impersonating his father but effectively it was a double voting prosecution.

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