More than 2300 votes already rejected: WAEC

Bunbury Herald

Fears that thousands of votes in the local government elections could be wasted have prompted the WA Electoral Commission to issue a warning to electors about filling out their ballots.

During the 2011 poll, 297 City of Bunbury voters mistakenly returned their postal voting packages with the mandatory voter’s declaration slip torn off, missing, or unsigned, rendering them worthless.

Last Friday, the commission said more than 2300 votes for this year’s elections had already been rejected.

Acting WA electoral commissioner Chris Avent said wasted votes could change the results in many councils, particularly where there were tight contests.

“With voter turnout traditionally quite low in non-compulsory local government elections, the last thing we want is large numbers of people wasting their votes,” he said.

Around WA in 2011 just 31 per cent of eligible electors voted but about 4 per cent of those votes could not be counted.

More than 8000 were returned unsigned, while a further 6260 were missing the declaration panel altogether.

“It was frustrating that, after electors made the effort to complete their ballot papers and post them back in the pre-paid envelope to the commission’s count centre, so many had to be rejected,” Mr Avent said.

To reduce the chance of voters mistakenly tearing the declaration slip off the 2013 ballot envelopes, the WAEC has amended the elector certificate instructions, including more prominent instructions.

The October 19 poll leads into what will be an important period for many of the State’s local authorities with future amalgamations flagged by the State Government.

Almost 1.2 million postal voting packages have been sent out across the State, with nearly 800 candidates vying for more than 300 vacancies.

In order for postal votes to be counted they must be received by the WAEC before October 19.

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