Selections is our annual newsletter. It is distributed to State and local government representatives, government departments, the Electoral Matters Committee, VEC employees, senior election officials and registered political parties.
This edition of Selections showcases key highlights from the Victorian Electoral Commission’s 2018-19 Annual Report. As expected, the year was dominated by the 2018 Victorian State election. I am proud to say that the VEC delivered quality, timely voting services to over 4.1 million enrolled Victorians.
Several significant legislative changes were introduced before the 2018 State election, including new funding and political donation disclosure laws, restrictions on signs near voting centres, and allowing voters to vote early without having a specific reason for doing so.
Informed citizens actively participating in free and fair elections is vital to any healthy, functioning democracy. Providing accessible electoral information and education services is a fundamental part of maximising electoral participation across the community.
We conducted several electoral activities over the 2018-19 financial year, including five local council by-elections, 18 countbacks, and four fee for service elections and polls.
In the lead up to the 2018 State election, the VEC rolled out a free SMS and email reminder service to enrolled Victorians, VoterAlert. This was in response to research showing that Victorian voters were keen to be contacted with voting reminders.
The integrity of election results and systems is the VEC’s highest priority. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise to learn that in the past year the organisation has invested significant time, energy and resourcing into hardening IT systems and applications and improving security controls.
The VEC Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-2019 concludes in December 2019. We have completed 58% of deliverables and are on track to achieve a further 31% by December 2019.
The VEC Disability Action Plan 2016-2019 concluded on 30 June 2019. Of the 43 deliverables, 39 were successfully completed (91%). These aimed to improve the access and inclusion of people with disabilities in the electoral process.
In July 2018 the VEC launched Strategy 2023, developed through extensive consultation with staff and consideration of the VEC’s operating environment. The VEC’s five-year goal is to be ‘change ready, with the people, systems and relationships to make the most of opportunities’.
All local councils in Victoria are subject to regular electoral representation reviews prior to every third general election, approximately every 12 years. During the 2018-19 financial year, 12 of 31 local council representation reviews were completed. The remainder are scheduled to be completed before the 2020 general elections.
The VEC is excited about delivering Victoria’s next major electoral event, with preparations for the October 2020 local government elections already well advanced. These elections are complex and far-reaching, with up to 4.5 million voters eligible to cast a vote.
New funding and disclosure laws came into effect from August 2018. An integral component of these laws involves an online disclosure system for political donations to parties and candidates. Since the system was launched on 25 November 2018, a total of 26 donations have been disclosed.
The number of Victorians enrolled to vote increased by 114,286 to 4,210,978 (2.79%) in 2018-19. The 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, 2018 State election and 2019 Federal election had a consolidated effect to significantly increase the enrolment rate.