news Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has revealed the ongoing recount of the Senate vote for the Federal Election in Western Australia has found “hundreds” of misplaced votes, in a move which the tech-savvy Senator said validated his request for a recount that could see him hold onto his seat in the state.
In early October, the Australian Electoral Commission announced that Ludlam had lost his seat, with candidates from the Liberal, Labor and Palmer United parties elected to the Senate from Western Australia in September’s Federal Election, despite the fact that the Greens took 9.48 percent of the initial vote and the Palmer United Party took 5 percent of the initial vote.
The news came as a blow to the Australian digital rights community, due to Ludlam’s role over the past half-decade after he was elected in 2007 increasingly coming to focus on holding powerful government departments and law enforcement bodies, politicians, corporations and other groups to account for increasing privacy rights violations and the encroachment of telecommunications surveillance in the digital age.
Ludlam would particularly be remembered for a series of fraught encounters with bureaucrats from the Attorney-General’s Department over data retention, telecommunications surveillance and Internet censorship issues, as well as his opposition to Labor’s Internet filtering plans and support for Labor’s National Broadband Network project.
However, the Greens and the Australian Sports Party successfully appealed for a recount of the vote, given the very small margin in some parts of the counting and the reported existence of anomalies in the count.
In a brief statement posted on his blog late last week, Ludlam said there was probably another seven days of recounting to go. “The good news is, we have an extraordinary band of volunteer scrutineers who have very quickly got the hang of the job, whether they’ve been able to donate an hour, a day or a week. The other good news is, they have found a lot more than 14 misplaced votes – our efforts are working, and our call for a recount has been entirely justified,” said Ludlam.
“The bad news is, there is no way of knowing which way the balance will tip in the final count, because scrutineers for the various parties have found misplaced votes going every which way – hundreds of them.”
Ludlam said the Greens’ volunteer scrutineers were “in need of a rest and some of them have given as much time as they’re able”.
“If you’re in WA is there any chance you could pick up the phone, right now or fairly soon, and give us a bell on (08) 9335 7477?” he asked. “We urgently need to fill out the roster for mid-late next week for the final push, to give us the best chance of holding on to the seat. You’ll be provided with a quick induction, lunch and occasionally beer. Also good company, cameraderie, and the knowledge that you’re buying us another few years to work on things like this.”
“I’ve been utterly humbled by the amazing show of support over the last few weeks, and I also want to thank the officers and staff of the Australian Electoral Commission for their professionalism and even-handedness. We’re close. All this picture needs is you.”
Irrespective of which way the count goes, will be seen on the Canberra stage for some time yet, with his Senate term not expiring until mid-2014.
Ludlam told ABC Radio earlier this month that it appeared the Palmer United Party had been elected on roughly half the vote of the Greens, but that was the sort of result Australia’s electoral system threw up occasionally. He added there was an urgent need for electoral reform.
“It is an elegant system being expertly gamed and manipulated,” Ludlam said. “The whole purpose of an electoral system is to accurately as possible reflect the voting will of the Australian people. It has let us down in this instance.”
Image credit: Australian Greens