THE Mirror received this explanation from Sue Lang, Director Communication and Engagement of the Victorian Electoral Commission late last week:
The great news is that with the swift action by the VEC reissuing affected ballot packs as soon as the issue was identified and extending of the close of voting, the election is well on track. In fact, as of close of voting 6pm last Friday, the number of votes returned will be higher than for the 2016 election at the same time for all three wards.
Australia Post has not yet provided a final report into its investigation, but we have received an interim report.
You are likely aware ballot packs are mailed out over three days. Only day one of the mail out was impacted. In short, instead of utilising the priority mail process (which successfully operated for days two and three), the ballot packs from day one were inadvertently mixed in with Australia Post’s ordinary mail [that transits via the Melbourne Parcels centre], which, as has been reported widely, is severely impacted by COVID-19. This meant they could not be easily located by Australia Post. Australia Post undertook to intercept these once they were located. Unfortunately they were not able to fully do so and, as you know, a very small number of voters therefore did receive both the original and reissued packs. As advised previously, there is no need for concern on this aspect as the VEC has systems and processes in place to ensure that these votes cannot be counted more than once.
I can also confirm the undelivered ballot packs have been returned to the VEC last week.
In light of expected ongoing COVID19 processes, Australia Post has committed to the VEC that the stringent coordination and tracking procedures used for large scale elections will now be used for low volume events such as a single council local government general election or by-election. We are confident this will prevent a similar event occurring again.
The election winners of the nine available councillor positions across the shire’s three wards, Coastal/Promontory, Tarwin Valley and Strzelecki will be known by Friday, November 12.