A FORMER councillor has called for a rerun of the Central and Coastal Ward elections in Fremantle after more errors by the WA Electoral Commission, though it has moved to reassure voters it has fixed up all the glitches.
The commission’s website has been a horrorfest of incorrect tallies and corrections for the two wards over the last week, which made former Vincent councillor Ian Ker, now a South Freo resident, concerned ballots had gone missing.
On Monday October 9, Central Ward was showing 2014 votes had been cast while Coastal Ward had 2206. But the next day that had dropped down to 920 votes for both wards.
That equated to a return of around 15 per cent, well below East and North Wards which had 23 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.
The tally was also reset after the first couple of days, apparently after ballots which had been sent to the wrong wards started to get counted. The bar code on the envelopes were supposed to pick them up so they could be discarded without being opened.
“I have been talking with both the WAEC and the City of Fremantle in an attempt to establish why these problems have been arising,” Mr Ker said.
While staff from both organisations were helpful, he said they gave him conflicting information on how the errors occur, and even then their explanations didn’t seem to fit with the posted figures.
“At this stage it is probably impossible to unravel the sources of errors/inconsistencies let alone correct them – in which case the only option is to rerun the election.”
Mr Ker said the electoral commission told him it had erroneously added together cumulative instead of daily totals, inflating the overall figure.
The City told him invalid votes sent in after the WAEC sent out wrong ballots, had been incorrectly counted and added to the daily totals.
Electoral commissioner Robert Kennedy told the Herald it was actually a combination of both.
“In relation to your query about returned election package tallies published on the commission’s website, there were some early inconsistencies due to the combined tallies of original (incorrect) Central and Coastal ward packages being tallied with reissued (correct) packages for these two wards,” Mr Kennedy said.
“The data has been amended to correctly reflect daily and cumulative totals.
“I acknowledge the frustration these recent errors have caused the community members and candidates. The WAEC is committed to working with affected parties to keep the community informed.”
Mr Kennedy said there were still 10 days before the vote cut off which he believed was a “generous window“ for voters.
He said the votes for Central ward as of Thursday October 12 had risen to 21.31 per cent while in Coastal ward it was 26.9 per cent, perhaps an indication of the hotly contested four-way race.
Fremantle council said it was aware of the problem and had been in regular contact with the WAEC, asking them to keep all candidates up to date.
The City encouraged voters to complete postal packages ASAP.
by APRIL HANCOCK