Thursday 17 November 2022
For immediate release
Four how-to-vote cards at the centre of a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) review will be published by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) after they were ordered to be registered by VCAT earlier today.
Three candidates requested a review of decisions to refuse registration of the how-to-vote cards associated with their campaigns. The VEC had originally refused to register the cards due to a concern that voters were likely to be misled by them. The cards showed a representation of the ballot paper for the respective district elections with a ‘1’ marked for the candidate and then left boxes for all other candidates empty as well as several other defects according to the VEC’s requirements. A ballot paper for a district election must have a preference in every box to be accepted as formal.
The Tribunal stood in the shoes of the VEC to consider the registration of these how-to-vote cards. Any person may request for VCAT to review a decision in respect to the registration of a card, and this is an important review right available as part of the registration process.
Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, noted the decision by the Tribunal’s President, Her Honour Justice Quigley.
'I acknowledge the significant time, resources and energy this has incurred for the 3 candidates. The VEC will incorporate the decision into its processes for considering applications to register how-to-vote cards lodged by the deadline at 12 noon tomorrow, and will withdraw cease and desist notices where relevant,' Mr Gately said.
'Today’s decision will help inform the VEC’s future requirements in respect to how-to-vote cards. In the fullness of time, the VEC will report to the Parliament in relation to recommended legislative clarifications, particularly around the regulation of campaigning in a contemporary State election setting.'
VCAT’s decision acknowledged the VEC’s threshold for considering what may constitute misleading and deceptive, but was not satisfied that the individual how-to-vote cards themselves met that threshold given that wording on the cards encouraged voters to number all the boxes. The Supreme Court has previously noted that ‘reasonable minds may differ’ in the conclusions they reach for matters of this type.
Registered how-to-vote cards are the only form of electoral material that may be handed to voters within 400 metres of a voting centre on election day. The requirements for registration are specified in the Electoral Act 2002 (Vic) and the VEC’s expectations are elaborated in its Candidate Handbook and other instructional products, which are made available to all candidates well in advance of elections. These requirements have been developed over a number of elections.
For information on how to vote correctly for a formal vote, please visit vec.vic.gov.au