AEC audit: they promised reform, but did very little

The AEC promised to reform before the last election. It didn’t do much. And now a new report finds it failed to act on recommendations from the 2013 missing votes scandal.

The Australian Electoral Commission has failed to act on recommendations out of the disastrous 2013 missing ballots scandal — and broke promises to improve the integrity of the country’s voting system before the election.

Three years before the botched 2013 vote — which resulted in a re-run Senate election in Western Australia — the AEC falsely claimed to have complied with all the recommendations of an audit into its preparation and safeguards. Now it has been fingered for making false progress reports on the Keelty recommendations, made in the wake of the scandal.

The Australian National Audit Office now says 1.2 million votes were cast in the federal election where polling booths were not properly supervised, despite directions from the audit body to improve the system. Ballot box security was an issue at many more booths.

In a damning report published yesterday, the second of three follow-up audits, the ANAO rejected a swath of AEC claims about compliance with recommendations it had agreed to implement. Instead, the ANAO found “little had changed between the 2007 and 2013 elections” in the selection of voting and counting premises, there remained no workforce plan, large numbers of temporary polling staff were never vetted for suitability and nor were they trained. The job of recording performance assessment ratings of election officials was also incomplete.

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