Tomorrow the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Steve Tully will press the button to reveal the outcome of the preliminary declaration of the Victorian Legislative Council and the eagerly awaited results for Western Victoria.
Whilst the counting process has been a marked improvement on the events of 2006 where ballot papers went missing between count A and Count B and the Commission failed to maintain backup copies of crucial below the line preference data files for Western Metro. Over 500 Ballot papers were unaccounted for, double entered or removed from the count. Steve Tully can not afford another stuff-up repeat
Already the count has been marred by the refusal of the Commission to provide copies of the below the line data files to scrutineers as the cont progresses. Why this information was not published on line is any one's guess.
"Ladies and Gentlemen watch me pull an election result out of my hat"
Presumably Steve Tully wants to make a show and dance of the event and bask in then lime light of media as the computer pumps out the results as he puts his ego ahead of maintaining a open and transient election.
Copies of the data-files were available during the 2008 City of Melbourne Municipal election count why weren't available during the State election? We can monitor the polling booth results on election night as they are reported why not watch live the tabulation of the below the line preference votes. Does the commission have something to hide?
In not providing access to the data-files the Commission has denied scrutineers the ability to verify the integrity of the data file used to tabulate the results. It is also impossible to know if the data files has not been altered in anyway. Had copies of the preference data-files been made available or published on line it would have allowed members of the public to maintain a watching brief to ensure that the data record had not changed without validation or appropriate authority.
Steve Tully claims that he is not required to make copies of the data available. Whoever he does have an obligation to ensure that the conduct of the election is open and transparent. Whilst there is no specific regulatory statement that says he must make this data available the reality is there is nothing that prevents or phlebitis him from doing so. In not providing access to this data he has prevented scrutineers from scrutinising the election.
In the absence of self regulation the State Parliament will have to regulate to restore public confidence and ensure that this information is readily available during the next round of elections due in 2008.
Steve Tully has promised he will make copies of the data-file including both the preliminary data-entry and the recheck data-entry verification files immediately after the conclusion of the count.
If as expected Western Metropolitan Region is within 250 votes we can expect a possible recount in which case the Commission must make copies of the the data available as and then data is recorded. already both the green and the ALP have signaled that they will be requesting a recount of the result is close.
Given the history of the VEC under Steve Tully's stewardship anything under 500 votes is worth looking at a second time.