Sunday, 22 September 2013

WA Senate outcome a close contest still undecided. Scrutineers denied access to crucial data files.

WA Senate still looks like being a close contest but at present the likelihood is 3 Liberal 1 ALP 1 Sports and 1 Green

In theory there is a plausible situation where Sport Party can be out polled early in the count with two close junction point contests between Sports Party and Rise Up Australia and No Carbon Tax Climate Skeptics. The unknown factor is the below-the-line votes and votes for One Nation candidate Robert Farmer who has 330 votes. One Nation failed to register a second group candidate and as such was forced into the un-grouped column and unable to register a group ticket.

If sufficient number of votes flow to either RUA or TCS and Sports Party excluded early in the count then WANG, Zhenya WANG, Palmer United and Louise Pratt can be elected to the last two seats

This is a seat where access to the Below-the-line preference data file is crucial. The Australian electoral commission has refused requests from scrutineers and candidates to provide progressive copies of the data files. This has marred the conduct of the election and left the commission open to allegations of undermining confidence in the Australian Electoral Commission and  the election procedures which are no longer open or transparent.

It is also a seat where the distortions in the counting of the Senate vote could also determine the outcome. The calculation of the surplus transfer value and the method of segmentation and distribution of votes from excluded candidates.
Votes from excluded candidates should be redistributed as if the excluded candidates had not stood.
This is not the case under Australian Senate count rules.

The method of calculating the Surplus transfer value based on the number of ballot papers as opposed to the value of the vote can add the equivalent of an an extra 10,000 votes to a candidates total.

Likewise the method of segmentation distribution of excluded candidates can also determine the outcome then if there is a complete single transfer per candidate.
In 2007 these distortions in the count decided the outcome of the Queensland Senate Count (Segmentation) and came close to defeating ALP Senate Candidate David Feeney in Victoria (Surplus Transfer Value)
With scrutineers denied access to copies of the below-the-line preference data. it is impossible to effectively and properly scrutinise the integrity of the count. Scrutineers from the Greens, the ALP, Sports Party and Palmer United have requested access to this data.

There is no legal situation preventing the Commission from releasing this information progressively as the data is data-entered and reporting this on its web site as it does with other elections results and election data.

The Commission claims that it is not required to produce copies of this information in electronic format. Although to produce this information in printed form would be time consuming and highly inefficient. Electronic data files are recognised under law to be the equivalent to documents in hard copy.

Copy of the AEC response to scrutineers requests can be found here

No doubts the process of the election count and the refusal of the commission to subject the count to a full and open transparent scrutiny will be part of the review of the conduct of the Australian Senate ballot and a possible legal challenge from either of the effected parties.

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