You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Soldier vote list errors found on poll day

AAP logoAAP 17/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Electoral officers scrambled on the morning of election day to ensure up to 800 soldiers did not miss out on voting in the federal election.

The efforts followed weeks in which the Australian Electoral Commission worked with the Australian Defence Force to fix a botched list of military personnel which contained errors ranging from double-ups to non-citizens and soldiers who had already voted.

A parliamentary committee looking at the conduct of the July election took evidence in Adelaide on Thursday from AEC officers.

The eight-week election campaign coincided with a major military training exercise in South Australia codenamed Hamel, involving soldiers from throughout the country

The commission's SA state manager Paul Hawes told the hearing the ADF alerted the commission to the fact that the exercise would be occurring and provided information on the number of persons deployed, broad deployment areas and the home locations of the soldiers.

In early June, the AEC provided advice to the ADF which outlined the pre-poll and postal voting options for ADF personnel prior to and while deployed.

The ADF sent personnel details to the AEC in late June, but the spreadsheet contained hundreds of errors including name double-ups, non-citizens and people who had already voted.

As well, AEC staff missed a tab on the spreadsheet which meant postal vote certificates were not provided to personnel who had requested them.

The mistake, affecting between 600 and 800 soldiers, was not discovered until election day morning.

"We realised on the morning at 5am on polling day we had obviously missed this information and there would be soldiers who were going to be rolling up here we didn't have information for," Mr Hawes said.

"That is when we worked with the ADF to ensure we were able to provide services to those people."

The soldiers affected by the glitch were transported to voting centres near exercise locations at Kadina, Whyalla and Port Augusta.

A total of 929 postal voting certificates were received by the AEC and returned to all states and territories, with the largest numbers returned to seats in the Northern Territory and Queensland, the AEC said in its written submission.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds told the hearing it appeared to be a "bit of a mess", to which Mr Hawes replied: "Yes."

The ADF told AAP in August that 628 Army members on Exercise Hamel did not cast their votes.

The Liberal-National Party considered challenging the election result in the north Queensland seat of Herbert, where thousands of soldiers are based, but decided against the court action.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon