AFP investigating multiple voting

Australian Federal Police are investigating numerous instances of voters casting more than one ballot in last September's election.

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Australian Federal Police are investigating numerous instances of voters casting more than one ballot in last September's election.

The Australian Electoral Commission has revealed that almost 2000 people have admitted voting more than once, and some have been referred to the AFP for investigation.

And the AEC says almost 19,000 letters have been sent to other electors who had multiple marks recorded beside their names.

Abby Dinham reports.

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So far, Federal Police are investigating 128 cases where Australians voted more than once at the 2013 federal election.


One person is believed to have voted 15 times.


Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Phil Diak says the AEC routinely scrutinises the vote count and works with the Australian Federal Police to investigate cases of multiple vost casting.


"Previous federal elections the AEC will refer egregious examples of multiple voting to the AFP of course that's an important element of our follow up processes after a federal election."


But in a Senate estimates hearing, Liberal Senator Dean Smith demanded AEC acting head Tom Rogers give a detailed breakdown of just how many voters had more than two marks against their name.


"Let's go to how many have three? 92. How many have four? 22. Have many have five? 4. More than five? Six marks, there's six electors. Seven marks, one elector. Nine marks, one elector. 12 marks, one elector. 15 marks, one elector.//I Don't know what the NSW Labor Party is like but I wouldn't be laughing at that."


Mr Rogers says almost 19-thousand letters were sent out to those believed to have voted more than once.


He says the replies are still being processed, but more than eight-thousand cases have been classified as "official error".


"1979 electors have admitted to voting more than once with the greater majority of those, over 81% being elderly, with poor literacy or with a low comprehension of electoral process."


In some instances, Tom Rogers says voters received postal votes and were also provided with ballot papers from mobile AEC officers visiting aged community centres.


He says the AEC has notified the Australian Federal Police and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.


Mr Rogers says this is a matter of routine, but AEC spokesman Phil Diak concedes the number of people admitting to casting multiple ballots has increased by almost 500 since the previous federal election.


"The last federal election in average terms there were around 10 admitted votes per electorate around 1500. This time it is up to around 1979 admitted votes again. Four out of fice of those are around poor comprehension, the elderly, those sorts of things but there around 128 where there's been more than two marks and we're following those up with the Australian Federal Police and the DPP."


Mr Diak says it will be a long process of review.


"Ten or eleven million people going through 8000 polling places, just through that sort of through put the polling official dealling with a similar name person on the voter list, sometimes a person will be marked off with DK Smith rather than D Smith and someone is then not marked off at a neighbouring polling booth, so there's a balancing non-voter entry against someone who has two marks against their name. These matters are all dealt with by contacting the electors after the election, quite a comprehensive process that is ongoing."


Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer says it's not good enough.


Mr Palmer, who won his House of Representatives seat by just 53 votes, says it's time for the entire electoral system to be overhauled.


"We need to have an electronic system so that when people do vote once they can be marked off the system and questions can be asked if another person presents himself to vote. Of course none of this could happen if people were required to present their ID. To buy a pharmaceutical in Australia, to board a flight you need ot have ID, but not to exercise your democratic rights to vote in this country. And why is this done? To entrench the two major parties."


Federal Coalition backbencher Dennis Jensen agrees that something needs to be changed to ensure voters abide by electoral laws.


But he's not convinced electronic voting is the answer.


"It has always concerned me that people can just walk in and say who they are, get their names crossed off and there is no check particularly during the day that they haven't gone somewhere else. I think having computers to mark people off the role would obviously but I think more thorough checking of a person's bona fides before they provided a ballot paper is necessary as well."


Also in the Senate estimates hearing AEC acting head Tom Rogers stated that the by-election after Kevin Rudd's departure cost more than one million dollars.


And he says it will cost more than 20-million dollars to stage a fresh Senate election in Western Australia - after the AEC's mishandling of votes led to the the state's 2013 Senate election result being declared void.


"Twenty million dollars.//Twenty million dollars and that does not include public funding which will be in order of three million dollars I think."


Mr Rogers is the acting Electoral Commissioner after Ed Killesteyn quit following the West Australian Senate election debacle.



Source World News Australia

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