THE WA Electoral Commission accidentally sent 12,000 postal ballots to the wrong address in Fre1mantle this week, and is urgently trying to fix the situation by mailing out replacements by priority post.
The commission has apologised for the stuff up, which saw ballots for the new Coastal Ward go to Central Ward and vice versa.
Fremantle council spokesperson Linda Wayman told the Herald on Thursday morning the commission had agreed to send out the replacements by priority post, which will increase the cost to taxpayers but should see them arriving on Monday and Tuesday.
The new packages will include a flyer explaining the mistake and telling ratepayers to fill in the new ballots and “destroy” the old ones.
Ms Wayman said a bar code on the envelopes would alert the commission if any incorrect ballots were completed and sent in, and they would be excluded and disposed of without reveailing the contents.
“The Commission apologises for this inconvenience for electors in the affected wards and has reminded people that plenty of time remains to make your vote count in this year’s local government elections,” the commission said in a statement.
The mistake has put the spotlight back on the Electoral Commission after a series of mistakes in previous years, including the old South Ward in Fremantle needing a re-run a few years back after an unqualified candidate slipped through the cracks and ended up on ballot papers.
East Fremantle council also persisted with in-person ballots for years after most councils had out-sourced their voting, saying it was expensive and didn’t have the integrity of having people turn up to the town hall to vote.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson said Fremantle should consider reinstating its own in-person elections following the commission’s mistake, saying it was incredibly inconvenient for people who’d planned holidays around getting their postal ballots, while with the new ward system being introduced this year, there was alreay a lot of confusion amongst ratepayers about where the new boundaries were.
by STEVE GRANT