Ludlam recount finds “hundreds” of misplaced votes



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


    • this is where i dont like clive. ‘i dont think that word means what you think it means’.

      hes shown it a couple of times that he has a skin deep understanding how our democratic processes operate. theres a little blind spot around recognising when something is actually a problem and at other times where the things would like to do are actually problem creators and not solvers.

      a recount is not a problem. but binning recounts would create quite a lot more by way of problems than it solves!

      going to be interesting to see what other policies hed like to carry…. see what else he regards as a ‘bad thing’.

  1. “It is an elegant system being expertly gamed and manipulated…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.”

    Not sure how this is correct. People either put one in the box above the line & trusted whoever they voted for to distribute their vote, or if they wanted a say, they’d number all the boxes below the line.

    Funny how they scream when it works against them, but you never hear a peep when the system works for them.

    • The greens have put legislation before parliament when Bob Brown was leader for preferential above the line voting and it has been their position for a long time.

    • I think you misunderstood the intent of the point.

      People vote ‘1’ above the line because voting ‘1-108’ below the line is a burden too few people are willing to carry on a Saturday morning.

      Preferential Above The Line voting allows people to vote ‘1-n’ instead (where n>4), giving them a far greater say in how their vote is distributed if their first preference party is unsuccessful. It is also simple so far more people participate in the full democratic process, instead of just doing “whatevs”

      In the current system, candidates are able to ‘game’ the system by creating several “aligned” political parties that all serve to funnel votes in to the one candidate (see the Crikey article on the LDP in NSW for more on that), or are able to use personal or vested interests to direct their preferences in return for favours and/or concessions.

      • In WA it was not that bad (1 – 108), was only about 60 here in WA.

        I always vote below the line, even if it was 200 boxes to fill.. but most people would only do above the line.

    • It does go both ways and as someone who voted for the Greens in WA let me list some of the things I think are really weird about the system. Not all of them helping the Greens and Scott Ludlam if the system was to change.

      For a start there’s the most critical point in the WA count. If the Australian Christians had got 15 more votes Scott Ludlam would have got over the line. Purely because of the way other minor parties, in this case the Shooters and Sports, helped game the GVTs. I don’t think people voting for the Christians intended to inadvertently help the Greens. If you killed the GVTs then scenarios like that probably wouldn’t happen.

      Secondly there’s the fact that Palmer put the Greens above most of the major parties. In most states this meant that if Palmer didn’t get in they put the Greens in. Knowing a few people who voted Palmer I’m not sure if this is what they wanted. If Palmer’s vote in WA had been a little bit higher it would have been Palmer and the Greens rather than Palmer and Labor.

      So really I think the system is broken despite it’s failed attempt to get the person elected I wanted to get elected. It’s also broken because of it’s success at electing people I did want to see elected in other states. Change in the way the Greens want almost certaintly wouldn’t have been in the Greens interest at this particular election.

  2. The thought of having this person barrelling his way through Parliament scares the hell out of me! It seems if he cannot have it his way, then it is not the right way. I sincerely hope all Tasmanians think, very long and hard, before they are tempted to give any representative of the P.U.P. an opportunity to create mayhem in their Parliament. For the first time for a long time we have a stable and fairly elected Government with a sizeable majority – and they should be given the chance to implement all that they have said in their manifesto. They know they have to face the judgement of the people eventually anyway.
    Let’s remember – out-of-control ‘pups’can make SUCH a mess!

    • ‘stable’? … torpid, secret, paranoid, vindictive and deeply ingrained underlying ultra right wing cant driven sounds a better call based on the last few weeks of… well, nothing of value…

  3. Didn’t Clive also say the AEC was screwing up? Who’d a thunk it, he seems to have gotten that right at least!

    • Clive’s just having a whinge at the AEC because it’s been nearly two months since the election and his seat still hasn’t been declared. Prepare for some hysterics if he ends up losing by a handful of votes. How such a bumbling fool managed to get so much support from the electorate is frightening.

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