The Australian Electoral Commission has lodged a petition with the Court of Disputed Returns asking it to declare void the result of the Western Australian Senate count.
The petition’s argument rests on the 1,370 missing ballot papers that could not be included in the recount that saw 3 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Greens and 1 Sports Party candidates elected. Due to the closeness of the result, the missing ballots had the potential to affect the result.
The AEC’s petition all but guarantees a new election in Western Australia next year.
The High Court will sit as the Court of Disputed Returns to decide on the petition.
Media release from the Australian Electoral Commission.
Petition lodged with Court of Disputed Returns
The three-person Australian Electoral Commission today authorised the Electoral Commissioner to lodge a petition with the Court of Disputed Returns in respect of the 2013 Western Australian Senate election.
The petition was lodged at approximately 2:30pm AEDT today.
The petition seeks an order from the Court that the WA Senate election of six senators be declared void.
Given the closeness of the margins that favoured the final two declared candidates, the petition is based on the premise that the inability to include 1370 missing ballot papers in the recount of the WA Senate election means that the election was likely to be affected for the purposes of s 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
As the matter is now before the Court the AEC will not be making any further comment.
The AEC recently appointed Mr Mick Keelty AO to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the missing ballots. Mr Keelty’s inquiries are continuing.
Editorial note: For copies of the petition, please contact the High Court Registry’s public information officer (Canberra) during their business hours. The AEC will not be posting or distributing the document.