Upholding electoral integrity and Victoria's democracy

Wednesday 14 September 2022

For immediate release


Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, AM

It's less than 75 days until November's State election, as evidenced by the number of political parties seeking registration, candidates announcing intentions to run and campaign policies and platforms being promoted in the media.

What Victorians are also likely to see over the next few months is a variety of electoral-related misinformation and disinformation campaigns. What's the difference between the two? Misinformation is when people just get it wrong, which could be for a variety of reasons (including by accident). Disinformation is when the facts are deliberately misrepresented.

I will be taking steps to proactively combat misinformation and disinformation and making it easier for the public to sort fact from fiction this State election. The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) will be increasing public awareness of common electoral myths via our new online misinformation register.

I urge you to be more cautious about sharing what may be mis- or disinformation relating to this election. Firstly, understand who is distributing or sharing the material – is it coming from a reliable source? Is the information current? Things change between elections, including some parts of electoral law.

Second, check to see if the electoral campaign material is authorised. To protect the integrity of elections and discourage deliberate, anonymous attempts to affect the way people vote, laws are in place to ensure that whoever publishes electoral campaign material must authorise it. This means that the person who publishes the material must add their name and address to it. Anyone can publish electoral campaign material and by authorising it, has complied with the law. This is not an attempt to silence anyone or dissuade free speech, but it’s my responsibility as the State’s independent election umpire to ensure transparency about the source of the material. Victorians have the right to be able to decide for themselves how much to trust the information put before them this election.

The VEC plays a critical role in supporting all election participants – voters, candidates and parties – to understand what is considered ‘electoral campaign material’ and how to properly authorise it. I have recently published updated guidance to make it clearer for everyone on what is expected when authorising electoral campaign material. With digital and social media playing an increasingly important role in election campaigning, examples are also provided to assist in identifying what is or isn’t considered electoral campaign material on social media.

If you are unsure of content about the election process that you have heard, read or seen, check the authorisation statement and then check our website as the source of truth. However, it’s important to understand that we are not the arbiter of truth in political advertising.

The health of our democracy is everyone’s responsibility. Please be discerning with the election campaign material being presented over the next few months, and take active steps to sort fact from fiction.

Further information about misinformation/disinformation and authorisation requirements for electoral campaign material can be found on the VEC’s website:

vec.vic.gov.au/authorisation

vec.vic.gov.au/misinformation