Sorting fact from fiction

Jump to the misinformation register

False or inaccurate information can easily spread online, sometimes unintentionally. It's important to think carefully about all electoral information you see this election.

Ask yourself these questions to help sort fact from fiction:

  • Is it from a reliable source?
  • Is it current?
  • Is it authorised?
  • Is it coming from a real person and not a 'bot'?

Misinformation is when information is spread that is believed to be true by those who are sharing it, but which is actually incorrect.

Disinformation is when information is designed to deliberately mislead and influence public opinion or obscure the truth for malicious or deceptive purposes.

You might come across both types during the election period.

Check the source

Is the information published by a person or organisation with a reputation for accurate reporting? Or is it difficult to find what the source is at all? Information that seeks to mislead people is often from a website or news source that you've never heard of. If you're unsure, see if you can find a similar story from a source you trust.

Check the date

Make sure any information you are consuming about an election is current. Information that is more than 6 months old might not have all the latest facts.

Check for authorisation

Has the person who wants to share this information put their name to it? Messages that seek to influence how people vote must include an authorisation statement. If there is no authorisation statement, the information might not be reliable.

An example of authorisation on an instagram post. The posted image is a black square with text that says

Check who is spreading it

Sometimes information isn't posted by humans and instead is published by bots. A bot is a piece of software that is programmed to automatically complete certain tasks. Social media bots can be programmed to mimic human users by posting updates, replying to other users, and sharing links and news stories.

Sometimes bot accounts use social media to deliberately spread incorrect information. Check the profile of the account posting the information to see if it is a legitimate account, or one that looks like it has been set up to push a particular message.

Things such as the account's posting history, number of followers or location may help you figure out whether a real person is posting from the account.

A screenshot of bots on twitter. There are 4 different profiles all tweeting the same thing about a new app. The accounts all have long strings of numbers at the end, like @Charles79929420. 

Check who is paying for it

If you see sponsored advertising related to an election on social media, you can check to see who has paid for it.

Ads on social media will be marked 'sponsored' or 'paid for by [company name]'. You can click this information or the ellipsis on the post (...) to find out who has paid for it.

Facebook example of how to see who paid for an ad. The ad reads  

Advertisers online can target people based on their location, age, gender, websites they have visited or other characteristics. Ask yourself why this message or ad may have been sent to you.

Check how it makes you feel

If the information makes you feel angry or excited, take time to check the facts of the story. It might be an opinion piece that is designed to make people share it around. If you're not sure if the information is true – then don't share it.

Know who to trust

We are the impartial 'umpire' that runs State and local council elections in Victoria and makes sure that all election participants play by the rules. We are independent of government, and our aim is to make sure that all eligible Victorians are equal at the ballot box. We'll be sharing some of the myths we come across in the lead up to the 2022 State election, so check this page frequently. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

While we will address myths and false information about election processes, it's important to understand that we don't regulate political advertising. Victorian electoral law does not require electoral campaign material to be truthful, so we encourage you to use the tips on this page to sort fact from fiction and do your own research.

Misinformation register

This register lists the electoral misinformation we have discovered, along with the corresponding facts. 

  • Misinformation: the VEC uses Dominion/Scytl vote counting software

    Fact: lower house ballot papers are counted by hand, under the supervision of scrutineers.

    Upper house ballot papers are counted using software that has been developed in-house and has been independently audited.

  • Misinformation: people who aren't vaccinated won't be able to vote

    Fact: all Victorians on the electoral roll will be able to vote in this election, regardless of their vaccination status. This can be in person at a voting centre or by post. 

    Find out more about voting options in an election.

  • Misinformation: the VEC is an arm of the State government

    Fact: we are an independent, impartial, and neutral statutory body set up under the Electoral Act 2002.

    We are not subject to direction from any minister and our actions are scrutinised by Parliament's Electoral Matters Committee. This committee is made up of members from several political parties. 

    All employees must fill out a Disclosure of political activities form before they can work for us. This includes all casuals who work at elections. 

    We may reject employment to people based on their past political activities. For more information see Disclosure of political activities.

  • Misinformation: the VEC is silencing free speech and targeting certain groups

    Fact: we are impartial and apply the law equally. We encourage political debate but must make sure this debate follows all electoral rules. This includes making sure anyone who publishes electoral material authorises it by adding their name and address to that material. This means voters can decide for themselves how much to trust the information. 

    We don't make the electoral rules (that is the role of Government) but we are responsible for applying them.

    More information about authorisation.

  • Misinformation: we use pencils at voting centres so we can change your vote

    Fact: we offer pencils at voting centres because they do not dry out or get jammed like pens can. You are welcome to bring your own pen if you like! 

    Scrutineers are appointed by each candidate and can observe all aspects of ballot handling, such as vote counting. They can challenge us if they think we have made a mistake. Changing your vote is simply not possible under our transparent system.

  • Misinformation: postal voting is not secret or secure

    Fact: we have systems in place to ensure postal voting is secret and secure. We separate voter details from postal ballot envelopes before they are opened so you cannot be associated with your completed ballot paper.

    Our extensive integrity checks ensure that any attempt at postal vote fraud are detected and dealt with immediately. This is how we identified an alleged attempt at postal vote fraud in Moreland's North West Ward in the 2020 local council elections.