A taboo subject by the major parties before elections is the hidden scourge of voting fraud. Like a crazy cousin it tends to be swept under the carpet.
The Australian Electoral Commission, since at least 1987, and more recently has been accused of being an accessory to the unlawful goaling of Pauline Hanson and David Ettridge of One Nation, and has faced allegations of being involved in voting fraud.
In her groundbreaking work, ‘The Frauding of Votes’ Professor Amy McGrath has dissected the electoral process in Australia. Her findings are quite discomforting, leaving the reader with a lingering mistrust of the election process.
Particularly, a foreword in the book researched by crime writer Bob Bottom, on Queensland vote fraud and the involvement of the Australian Labor Party reveals criminality gone unchecked.
One may ask,” will my vote go to where I intend it to go?” Or another question following an election could be,” I cannot find anyone who voted for that person or party.”
Or in marginal seats a result is often tipped one way or another by a handful of preferences, which could be a legitimate result, but in the experience of Cairns News researchers, the final result can often be dodgy.
Cairns News has on file some outstanding examples of roll manipulation providing large numbers of false enrollments.
One in particular is to enrol a false name at a real address. Of course it is hard to verify the authenticity of a name but not difficult to check an address.
We have 16 letters from the AEC all mailed to 16 different names at one Brisbane address. After exhaustive checks including title searches and council records only one name was a real person.
The modus operandi of rent-a-vote is to have a list of these names for pre-polling booths where the rorters often strike. The AEC issued a media release stating at this election a week ago there were more than 400,000 pre-polling votes cast. This is 150,000 more than last election, the AEC claimed.
No identification is needed to get a ballot paper at a federal election. Simply rock up to the table, give your name, tell the official you have not voted anywhere else that day and off you go to make your mark.
Simple arithmetic says if the roll is padded with 2700 names for example in the state seat of Cook at the state election these are sufficient available numbers to shore up a candidate’s result.
Essentially the roll was either over-padded with false names or the AEC failed to check identities and remove those unknown prior to the election.
There were only a handful of prosecutions after the election for people not voting in Cook.
A person with a list of falsely enrolled names could go to 50 booths in an electorate and vote 50 times in different names. None would be the wiser.
Cook it is an electorate which takes in Cape York so there may well be a number of people enrolled who did not vote. But the Electoral Commission is supposed to write to all people on the roll well before an election to ensure they do exist and their details are correct. If there is no reply then the name is removed from the roll, isn’t it?
Two glaring questions stand out in this highly illegal practice.
Who supplies the list to rent-a-vote and just who are these fraudsters who have been seen in the past by party workers traveling from booth to booth in small buses?
The AEC used to conduct physical habitation checks of every residence in the country, but these days it claims it does not need to do this expensive exercise. It says it cross checks all government and private data available to verify identities.
Everyday experience dealing with government and private bureaucracies would show this method to be less than reliable.
In 2004 One Nation Senator Len Harris corresponded with then AEC Commissioner Bob Longland. Longland admitted there were at least 400,000 entries on the roll whose identity was not verified.
This is the hidden cost of ‘democracy’ in Australia.