FAQ - Voter Fraud

FAQ - VOTER FRAUD

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of common questions regarding voting and voter fraud in Australia. If you have any other questions that are not answered here, feel free to contact us.

1. Is voting compulsory in Australia?

Yes. Any citizen of Australia over the age of 18 must enrol and vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums.

2. What is ‘vote fraud’?

‘Vote fraud’ means any illegal activity committed by any person who intends to cause an electoral result that may or may not be consistent with the will of the majority of electors.

3. Do we really have vote fraud in Australia?

Yes. It has been well reported over the years. The more sensational cases include, The Shepherdson Inquiry and the more recent Auburn Council elections.

4. What kind of fraud happens?

Enrolling at addresses that do not exist or do not have homes to live in. Enrolling more people at addresses than actually live there. Voting as someone else or as other people. Voting many times in an election instead of just one time as allowed by law.

5. Don’t we have the best election system in the world?

Some people say that we do, but recent cases of irregularities show that Australia’s electoral system has problems that other countries would not accept. 

6. Why should I care about vote fraud?

When people cheat to help candidates win elections, those people are violating your right as a citizen to have electors enrolled correctly and votes counted properly. A person who defrauds honest voters by deliberately breaking electoral laws and exploiting loopholes in electoral procedures has decided that his or her will to see a preferred candidate win dishonestly is more important than the will of the majority of voters to see a candidate win honestly. Illegal behaviour when known to the public impacts the public's faith in the trustworthiness of Australian elections.  Democracy depends on public faith and trust in the integrity of elections.

7. Can a person vote more than one time in an election?

Yes. Unfortunately, election procedures enable voters to cast ballots in every polling place in their home electorate on election day – but those who do this must know that they are committing a crime. Unless the ballot paper is ruled as informal (i.e. improperly completed by the elector), it will be counted and included in the election result.  

8. What happens if I vote more than one time in an election?

You may get an official letter from the federal or state electoral commission. The letter may demand an explanation. You may get a fine but the electoral commissions have to prove that it was you who voted twice. Ballot papers are not traceable and so the evidence is virtually impossible to obtain and so few people are ever charged and almost none are convicted.

9. Are there laws against multiple voting?

Yes – but they are not being enforced effectively. A family in South Australia famously claimed to have voted 159 times in the 2010 SA state election.

10. What is ‘multiple voting’?

‘Multiple voting’ means that a person is illegally voting more than one time in a particular election to influence the election outcome. Multiple-voting is a criminal offence in Australia but election processes allow it to happen too easily.

11. Why doesn’t someone do something about the fraud?

Many people, including Vote Australia, have been trying to persuade successive federal governments to update our elections laws and demand better process from the Australian Electoral Commission.

12. Are there penalties for illegal voting?

Yes – up to $6600 fine and/or two years imprisonment.

13. Who is doing the fraud and why?

Supporters of political candidates, political party activists, and pranksters such as the family that voted 159 times.  Honest mistakes by electors happen but fraud is deliberate.  

14. Do I have to prove who I am when I go to vote?

No. Voters are only asked to verbally confirm identity. No proof of identity is expected. There is no effective procedural barrier to you voting in whosever name happens to be on the electoral roll at a polling place.  Voting in someone else's name is a criminal offence.

15. What difference can a few illegal votes make?

A lot! The average electorate has 100,000 enrolled voters but any election can see the slimmest margins deciding winners. Here are a few examples (Vote Australia does not imply that fraud occurred).

2016 - Herbert Qld - 37 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-165.htm

2007 - Robertson, NSW - 184 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-146.htm

2007 - Flynn, Qld - 253 votes  -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-311.htm

2007 - Solomon, NT - 196 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-307.htm

2013 - McEwen, Vic - 313 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-226.htm

2013 - Fairfax, Qld - 53 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-160.htm

16. What are some examples of problems with our electoral rolls and what impact did they have?

Here are just two examples where the rolls are letting down candidates and voters

In 1988, Joan Chambers lost her seat of Ballarat-South by 104 votes. From 1979 to 1982 the number of people on the electoral roll matched the numbers in the population census. In 1985 a discrepancy of 2000 people occurred. By the 1988 election there were around 5000 more names on the roll than in the census.  After the election the investigation of  one third of  the roll found 1506 suspicious names and addresses, of  which the Electoral Commissioner confirmed 1081 did not exist as eligible voters. They also found 106 people voted twice, 367 people voted who did not live in the electorate.

In the 1995, Queensland state election, the ALP's Ken Davies initially won the state seat of Mundingburra by just 16 votes. Later the Liberal Party candidate  Frank Tanti uncovered some extensive cases of fraudulent alteration of the electoral roll.

Following a hearing by Judge Ambrose in the Court of  Disputed Returns, November 1995, it was found that there had been significant faults made by the Electoral Commission officials, namely, people who were not residents and, therefore, ineligible to vote in that electorate had done so. It was also found that the votes of 22 soldiers serving in Rwanda had not been received before voting day. In light of this evidence the July 1995 result was overturned.

When most of the anomalies had been corrected, the By-election, in February 1996, was held and won by Tanti by 1084 votes, 1100 more than received in July ‘95. The loss of the one seat majority meant that the Goss government was replaced by a Liberal National Coalition government, led by Robert Borbidge.


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  • commented on A fair voting system 2022-06-23 20:29:52 +1000
    John thanks for taking the time to read PLERS.

    With regards to computer entry, AEC always enters every vote on their computer system and that is what determines the result. Doing an election night manual count would give enough information from 1st and 2nd preferences to predict a PLERS result.

    The chapter I am currently writing uses PLERS Simplified for political elections, which simplifies the count process. For Reps elections 1st pref gets a 1.0, 2nd 0.9, 3rd 0.8, etc till the 11th and all subsequent getting zero (0.0). It’s a simple process, you just add up the vote value and rank the candidates.

    Senate is a little more complex but follows similar lines.

    Regards Erik

  • commented on A fair voting system 2022-06-23 15:53:21 +1000
    John, I have clearly documented how Preferential Voting (PV) can overcome the shortcomings of First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) voting – in BOTH single member electorates and in Proportional Representation systems such as you advocate. You correctly say that PR would make life easier for the voters, the AEC, and government, but then you say “as far as fairness is concerned – [PR] is unbeatable”. The fact is PR does not guarantee a fair count and I have proved this with examples, and proved that Preferential Voting beats PR in fairness.

    I have clearly demonstrated clear numerical examples how the PR system you advocate can get it WRONG, but that those problems can be reduced by adding Preferential Voting and, better still, even totally eliminated by counting the votes via DPAP. DCAP/DPAP totally eliminates the problems of electing Parties or Candidates contrary to voters’ collective preferences. Without PV PR totally ignore everything except first preferences and that risks unfair results.

    DPAP is the ONLY guaranteed fair vote counting method that allow you, John, to vote only for the party you want, while allowing others to use full or partial or split preferential voting as they see fit, and yet every vote still carries exactly the same value. The Borda Count comes close, but can’t handle partial preferential voting. PLERS comes closer, but it does NOT handle partial preferential voting fairly because it does not count partial preferential votes linearly – unless Erik has changed his system to overcome that fault since I pointed it out some months ago in this forum.

    DCAP facilitates high security against electoral fraud. It suits transparent block-chain security with a complete audit trail from paper ballot paper and/or electronic screen voting all the way from polling booth to final declaration. Being totally linear, the results from different polling places, as extremely small digital files, are easily and instantly aggregated as highly secure digital files that are very difficult to alter because they can be checked against the individual votes retained in the polling place machines. The fact that voting machine fraud is widespread in some countries simply highlights the need for legislation for machines and procedures to be rigidly controlled. As outlined in links given previously, individual voters can choose to receive anonymous receipts showing their actual vote as scanned and/or as approved on screen, that they can the check that their vote was actually correctly recorded and counted. Further, the online semi-real-time output summaries from individual polling stations can be made transparent to the media, public, candidates and parties. All this make voting fraud difficult and auditing easy.

    The fact is DCAP/DPAP can fix PR’s serious fault that it can give parties more seats than they deserve – as I have documented. So, your claim that: “(The Israeli system) is a fair system” is clearly not necessarily true. Also, while “Voters would be very reluctant to vote for a party that could form a coalition with a party they despise. (and) Pre-election promises about forming coalitions are usually widely known and adhered to,” there are plenty of Israeli and Kiwi voters, who despair over parties and candidates betraying their trust – plus Aussie voters betrayed where promised policies are ignored etc.
    While traditional Preferential Vote counting is a slow error-prone process because candidates are eliminated and preferences distributed (often more than 100 times in a mathematically chaotic process with numerous unpredictable tipping points) DPAP requires no time-wasting sifting through preferences. DPAP never distributes preferences – but all preferences are taken into account fairly. DPAP never “eliminates” any Candidate or Party in the count, all are accurately rated into a hierarchy. Everything is decided in a quick efficient linear manner.

    In summary, if you want to guarantee a fair and just level playing field, then Preferential Voting using DPAP’s fair counting system is required in a Proportional Representation system, even when voting for a large number of representatives. While voters wanting to ensure a fair and just result need to fill in more preferences, voters have the option to vote as little or much as they choose and all votes are counted equally.

  • commented on A fair voting system 2022-06-23 12:24:58 +1000
    Erik,
    Preferential voting for multiple seats in a single electorate using proportional representation (PR), would not achieve much at all. There would hardly be any difference in outcome compared to voting for a single candidate.
    I agree that PR is difficult to achieve. It would require a constitutional change in Australia. I do not agree that it is difficult to implement. It would make life easier for the voters, the AEC, and government. And as far as fairness is concerned – it is unbeatable.

    I do think your PLERS is a fairer system, compared to existing preferential voting and other alternatives. However, it requires a spreadsheet to process results. The existing system has a method that can be counted manually by stacking and eliminating votes in a process that is easily checked and monitored – by people. It is slow, but traceable.
    Your method (PLERS) requires data-entry into a spreadsheet – which I guarantee you is a much slower and error-prone process. Preferably this would be done on 3 spreadsheets simultaneously, so that the results can be compared. If they don’t match – start again. If you were to combine PLERS with voting for multiple seats in a single electorate using proportional representation, i.e. all of Australia in a federal election, you would also have to combine spreadsheets from regional counting centres in a country-wide spreadsheet. Another error-prone level of complexity. Mistakes are inevitable and voters would lose confidence. I foresee very long wait times before election results are confirmed.
    PLERS would be OK if we got the input for the spreadsheets directly from a voting machine. However voting machines are not allowed in Australia – and I agree with that. It is too easy to manipulate – as is the merging of spreadsheets.

    Forgive me for my opinion, but I still dislike any form of preferential voting – even PLERS, because it is simply too complex and achieves nothing in a PR system.

  • commented on A fair voting system 2022-06-23 12:22:42 +1000
    Peter,
    1. This is not my system. This is a system used in many countries, Israel among others, as you have stated. The Israeli system does create a complex of parties with – in our eyes – ‘unstable’ governments. The parties and their policies are a direct reflection of the diverse opinions of the citizens of Israel. It is a fair system. Sometimes this means failures to govern, and a re-election is required. But when it works – it works very well.

    2. I retract my ‘THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE’. It is possible, though extremely unlikely. Your example states a party with 30% of the vote may be considered by 51 to 70% of the voters to be the worst possible choice. Well then, the parties these ‘51 to 70%’ voted for can form a coalition. But realistically, the opinions of voters are reflected in the parties they vote for – otherwise why vote for them. No party would form a coalition with a party that has alienated itself from more than 50% of the voters. Voters would be very reluctant to vote for a party that could form a coalition with a party they despise. Pre-election promises about forming coalitions are usually widely known and adhered to. Theoretically it can happen – but in practice it hardly ever does, and when it happens the government does not last long – and a re-election is required – like in Israel.

    Preferential voting is simply not required in a proportional representation system when voting for a large group of representatives. We do not have to sift through preferences per regional seat to determine a winner per seat. We just vote for one candidate by ticking his name on a list. If party X has 30% of the vote – they get 30% of the seats – fair and transparent. And simple to count.