3 November 2020
For immediate release
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) announced today that it has discovered what appears to be intentional postal vote tampering in the Moreland City Council, North-West Ward election.
It has referred the matter to Victoria Police and the Local Government Inspectorate.
VEC Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, said today he was disappointed that an apparent attempt had been made to interfere in the election.
'This is a serious matter and carries significant penalties if the investigation verifies the attempt and identifies the person or people involved,' he said.
Mr Gately noted that alert staff and standard reconciliation procedures highlighted a high incidence of multiple returns in the North-West Ward election. Subsequent checking has identified at least a few hundred suspicious returned postal voting declarations which do not appear to have been completed by the voter. The VEC is continuing to check further returns against the voter enrolment forms.
Mr Gately said he was confident that the apparent vote tampering was confined to the North-West Ward election after extra checks revealed no such issue in Moreland City Council’s other wards: North-East Ward and South Ward.
'As Victorians rightly expect, election integrity is of paramount importance to the VEC,' said Mr Gately. 'By law, the VEC must proceed with finalising the count and declaring the result of this election, but I will lodge an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an inquiry into the election for North-West Ward as soon as the result is declared.'
'The VEC is now working with and supporting the investigation, currently being led by Victoria Police. Whilst the investigation is underway, the VEC will not make any further public comment on the matter.'
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at crimestoppersvic.com.au
*North-West Ward is a four-councillor ward. Seventeen candidates nominated to fill the vacancies; 47,583 voters were enrolled in the ward for this election; and North-West Ward recorded a return rate of 82.94%.