High Court Formally Voids WA Senate Result; No Date Yet On New Poll

The High Court’s Justice Kenneth Hayne, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, today formally declared the Western Australian Senate election void, paving the way for a new election in April or May.

The Court ruled that the loss of 1370 ballot papers during the second count meant that those electors had been denied a vote. It rejected arguments that it should endorse either of the two counts, as well as arguments that it should substitute a “patchwork” of results from both counts.

A writ for the Senate election now needs to be issued by the Governor of Western Australia. By convention, state Governors accept the advice of the Governor-General on when to call Senate elections. This means that the election date, as usual, will be decided by the Abbott government.

The election must be held by May at the latest, in order to allow time for the votes to be counted and a result declared so that new senators can take their place on July 1. [Read more…]


Full Text Of A.E.C. Election Petition Regarding W.A. Senate Election

This is the full text of the election petition lodged by the Australian Electoral Commission with the Court of Disputed Returns.

The petition chronicles the conduct of the Western Australian Senate election count and the subsequent recount. It provides details of the 1,370 lost votes that could not be included in the recount.

The petition argues that “the result of the election was likely to be affected” by the missing ballot papers. It says: “In all the circumstances – including the number of missing ballot papers, the narrowness of the margin at the 50th exclusion point and the differences which, in the usual case, emerge between the fresh scrutiny and a re-count…it is not possible to conclude either with certainty, or on the balance of probabilities, either that that the fifth and sixth respondents (Dropulich and Ludlam) have been correctly returned, or an alternative return of the seventh and eighth respondents (Wang and Pratt) accurately, or more accurately, reflects the true intentions of the voters.”

The petition says “it is just that the Election should be declared void” for the purposes of Section 362(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Text of election petition lodged by the Australian Electoral Commission with the Court of Disputed Returns.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF AUSTRALIA
CANBERRA REGISTRY NO C 17 OF 2013 [Read more…]


Electoral Commission Asks Court Of Disputed Returns To Void W.A. Senate Result

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.