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Electoral Commissioner Orders Senate Recount In Western Australia

The Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, has ordered a recount of Senate votes in Western Australia.

The Commissioner has instructed the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia to conduct a full recount of all above the line ballots and all informal ballots. This represents over 96% of all votes casts. It excludes ballots where electors voted below the line.

The decision follows a request by two defeated candidates, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and the Australian Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich. At issue is a 14-vote margin that resulted in a preference flow that defeated Ludlam and Dropulich and elected the ALP’s Louise Pratt and the Palmer United Party’s Zhenya Wang.

A recount in the House of Representatives electorate of Fairfax is continuing. It will determine whether Clive Palmer’s 7-vote lead stands.

Media release from the Australian Electoral Commission.

Australian Electoral Commission statement: Senate recount in Western Australia

Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn said today that he had considered appeals from Senator Scott Ludlam (Australian Greens) and Mr Wayne Dropulich (Australian Sports Party) – candidates for the recent Western Australian Senate election.

The appeals were made following an earlier decision by the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia, Mr Peter Kramer to refuse their applications for recounts of Senate votes.

Mr Killesteyn said that after due consideration of the appeals he had decided to direct a recount of Western Australian Senate ballot papers where electors had marked their ballot above-the-line. This will involve over 96% of votes, or approximately 1.25 million of the 1.3 million formal votes. The recount will additionally re-examine informal votes.

“In making my decision I sought an explanation of the various matters raised in the appeals from Senator Ludlam and Mr Dropulich. I also provided an opportunity for written correspondence from the other key affected parties in the Senate election, namely candidates Senator Louise Pratt (Australian Labor Party) and Mr Zhenya Wang (Palmer United Party).

“While closeness of a particular count in the process of distributing Senate preferences is not in itself a basis for a recount under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act), it does allow the Electoral Commissioner to direct a recount should there be appropriate grounds on appeal.

“Having considered candidates’ submissions and having further regard to the criticality of particular Senate candidate exclusion counts and the small margins involved in determining Senators’ elect, I have decided that there should be a recount of all formal Western Australian above-the-line ballots and informal ballots – as determined by Divisional Returning Officers for the fifteen WA electoral divisions in accordance with section 273A of the Electoral Act.

“I will therefore direct the Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia to conduct a full recount of all above-the-line Senate ballot papers and informal ballots originally counted in the fifteen electoral divisions in accordance with section 278 of the Electoral Act as soon as possible.

“I have concluded that the recount will be in the best interest of all candidates who contested the 2013 WA Senate election, and in the overall interest of the WA electorate’s confidence in the outcome,” Mr Killesteyn said.

The Australian Electoral Officer for Western Australia, Mr Peter Kramer will soon advise candidates of arrangements for the recount, and recount update information will be provided via the AEC’s website. The dates for the subsequent distribution of preferences and declaration of the Senate poll for Western Australia will follow in due course.

The results of the recounted votes will be re-entered into the AEC computerised Senate system (Central Senate Scrutiny or CSS), and merged with the existing below-the-line votes. The Senate CSS system is managed from a central location in each state/territory and involves a range of computerised checks of the vote data entered.

Media release from the Australian Greens.

Greens Leader welcomes WA recount

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Australian Electoral Commission’s Western Australia Senate recount decision today.

“With only 14 votes in Western Australia having such a dramatic impact on the outcome of the Senate election, it is only fair that the ballots be recounted,” Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne said.

“This narrow margin has been excruciating for Senator Scott Ludlam and the Australian Greens so this recount is very good news.

“With the AEC policy that automatically mandates a recount in the House of Representatives if the margin is less than 100 votes, it makes no sense not to have the same for the Senate.

“I welcome the decision to recount the Senate vote in Western Australia but I’m concerned that the recount will only be the above-the-line votes and not the below-the-line votes where there is likely to be the greatest margin of error.

“When you have 62 candidates below-the-line, all of whom have to be numbered, that’s where mistakes are more likely to happen.

“The Greens will now seek from the Electoral Commissioner a full recount including below-the-line.”

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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