Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Corruption Allegations Against NSW Electoral Commission

Pauline Hanson, Former leader of One Nation, has alleged that she was denied election at the 2011 NSW State election as a result of corruption in the way the count has been counted.  This raises serious concern about the conduct of the election itself and the ability of its Chief Commissioner Colin Barry.  The NSW Commission has also come under criticism for failing to publish the detailed results of the election.  It is crucial that elections are open and transparent in order to maintain public confidence.  Colin Barry's has failed in both accounts.  Elections in Australia are no longer open or transparent. The commission's refusal to release detailed elections results only undermines public confidence even further.  Colin Barry';s approach is to deny access to crucial evidence and information.  This is not the way to proceed.  The NSW State government must insist in a full independent audit of the commissions management and practices.  If Colin Barry is unable or unwilling to ensure that elections are open and transparent then he should resign or be dismissed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Commission seeks to deny public access to detailed results: More questions raised about NSW Electoral Software

The NSW Electoral Commission has once again gone to extraordinary steps to try and avoid disclosure of detailed election results racing ongoing concerns as to the design, structure and certification of the NSW Electoral Commission's software

In what is seen a further example of misuse and abuse of process the Commission falsely claims that copies of the below the line preference data files used to tabulate and calculate the results of the State election can not be made available.  The Commission claims that in order to do so they would need to write a program to extract the data.

This has raised a number of questions as to the design structure and security of the software deployed by the commission.  Presumably the information is stored in a commonly used database storage format such as Microsoft access, SQL, MSSQL or similar.  Any computer person who is familiar with the data structure should be able to write SQL query to extract the data within 5-10 mins.  Bare in mind that the NSW Electoral Commission has an "qualified" IT team, one finds it extremely difficult to believe that the Commission is unable or unwilling to responded to the formal FOI request in good faith.

The request made to the Commission had requested that the FOI application fee be waived as the information sought is in the public interest.

Given the extraordinary effort made by the commission to avoid disclosure we wonder exactly what is it they are seeking to hide and prevent being made public?  Perhaps this is an issue that the NSW Corruption Commission or the Auditor General should investigate.

Public elections MUST be open and transparent, the information sought is readily available from all other Australian electoral commissions that data-entry preference data.  Why not NSW?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Collin Barry's Secret Ballot: Blackjack with the cards faced down

NSW Election Commissioner, Colin Barry's refusal to publish the detailed results of the NSW state election upper house ballot is akin to a blackjack dealer dealing a deck of cards face down and then declaring the results without showing the cards.

What is it he has to hide.  Why has he refused to published the ballot election data files?

Colin Barry's actions continue to bring the conduct of the 2011 NSW State election into disrepute and open to allegations of fraud and corruption.

Elections conducted by computers counts are no longer open and transparent,  Publication of the data file should be undertaken progressively during the count as was the case during the 2008 Melbourne City Council Election.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Colin Barry Denies Dodgy Poll allegations

Colin Barry, NSW Chief Electoral Commissioner, has denied Pauline Hanson's allegations of electoral fraud.  Courier Mail by Kate Sikora.

"A day after the matter was in the Court of Dispute Returns, Electoral Commissioner Colin Barry issued a statement refuting the claims, made by Ms Hanson.

The claims surrounded two staff members, Ian Brightwell and Richard Carroll, who are alleged to have exchanged emails regarding errors in the count of votes for Ms Hanson, who lost a seat in NSW Parliament’s Upper House by 1300 votes.

"Nothing has been shown to me that suggests the allegation concerning the staff members has any substance,’’ Mr Barry said."

Meanwhile Colin Barry has failed to respond to an FOI request for copies of the computerised below-the-line preference data-files.  The Commissioner's refusal to publish this data continued to bring t6eh conduit of the Commission and Marches State Election into disrepute. 

NSWEC information Manager, Ian Brightwell, was quick to act in order to prevent the publication of the preference data files? The question remains unanswered is why? .

Copies of the Below-the-line data files are published by all other Electoral Commissions, Including the AEC NSW Senate count,  

Ian Brightwell raises questions as to integrity of NSW poll

Ian Brightwell, Information manager for the NSW Electoral Commission, has been implicated as a source of information in allegations of dodgy staff (Australian Newspaper)

When contacted by The Australian for comment, Mr Brightwell hung up the phone.

Ian Brightwell is the same person we spoke to in seeking to gain access to the recorded "Below-the-line" preference data-files  Mr Brightwell was very evasive and refused to publish the data files.  Data that is normally published by other Electoral Commissions as a mater of course.

Why the secrecy and coverup?  Could there be some truth and fact behind the allegation of dodgy staff involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and the validity of the election?

Why is crucial information such as the BTL data-files not being made available? Why is the NSW Electoral Commision engaged in a act of avoidance?

The Australian news article  says the Electoral Commission is investigating the allegations.  This is akin to the fox being put in charge of the investigation of the raid on the hen house.

The NSW Electoral Commission must be subjected to a full independent inquiry with the allegations of corruption investigated independently from the Commission itself.  The investigation needs to also look into the question as to why the Commission is refusing to publishers details of the election results.

If, as suggested, there is wrong doing in the way the NSW election has been conducted then Colin Barry, Chief Electoral Commissioner should be removed from office.

It is fundamental that the public have full confidence in the Electoral process and that public elections are open and transparent.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pauline Hanson wins rights of discovery motion on conduct of election.

Pauline Hanson, candidate in the 2011 NSW Legislative Council election, has been granted under a "notice of discovery" the right to obtain information pertaining to the conduct of the NSW Upper House election. Pauline Hanson failed to win a position in the NSW Legislative Council by less then 1,300 votes. 

"This is not just about Pauline Hanson, We should have a fair and just system in Australia and ensure all elections are above board.'' Pauline Hanson  told reporters.

Colin Barry, NSW Electoral Commissioner, has refused to make available or publish copies of the below the line preference data files used to calculate and determine the outcome of the election.

There is nothing in law that prevents details of the election results or the preference data file being published. It is a public document.

So why is Colin Barry refusing to make this information publicly available?

Copies of the preference data-files are published by other Electoral Commissions, including the NSW Senate vote conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. 

It is essential that our election process is open and transparent
Without access to the data it is impossible to verify the correctness of validity of a computerised election count.  The content of the data file has not been subject to public scrutiny or review.There is no guarantees that it is a true and accurate record of the voters intentions.

Colin Barry's refusal to make this information available has and continues to bring the NSW election into disrepute.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pauline Hanson challenges NSW election result

Pauline hanson has challenged the results of the NSW upper-house election. Whilst I do not support Pauline Hanson's polices or politics I do support the challenge.  This is an issue that Pauline Hanson should take to the High Court if need be.

The NSW Commissioner, in refusing to publish the detailed below the line preference data files, has cast doubt over the electoral process. If public confidence is to be restored the preference data files must be published and readily available for independent public review.

Australian should be very concerned about the lack of transparency in the NSW election.  Was there unfair manipulation of the election results?

The system of counting the upper house vote in NSW is seriously flawed with a random selection of ballot papers determining the result.  This system should have been abolished long ago as it does not accurately represent the voters intention.

There is little wonder why Colin Barry, NSW chief Electoral Commission refuses to publish the below the line preference data files as it would highlight the flaws in the system,  Flaws that he and the NSW parliament should have addressed.

Colin Barry's refusal to publish the data is now the subject of an FOI request and a complaint to the Information Ombudsman. The Commissioner's failure to ensure that the electoral system is open and transparent has raised questions as to the property of the election count itself.  One ask what is it that he has to hide  and why has he refused to make the data files public?

The Australian Electoral Commission and the Victorian Electoral Commission have all published the below the line preference data files.  Why not NSW?

The NSW Electoral Commission's web site has little to desire.  Colin Barry clearly has done little to  improve NSW procedures.  One has to again question the value and need for State ElectoralCcommissions,  They clearly lack expertise and professionalism.

A quick read of schedule 6 of the NSW Election Act shows just how distorted and seriously flawed the NSW election system is. This would have to be one of the worst electoral codes in Australia.