The Mirror News

Three voting days left for shire election

Only three days are left before voting in the South Gippsland Shire Council’s postal general election officially closes at 6 pm this Friday October 29, 2021.

All eligible voters’ completed ballot packs must be either in the mail or personally delivered to the Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) South Gippsland Election Office at 37 Bair Street in Leongatha by the cut-off time and date to be counted.

The election results were to be declared by Friday November 5, but now the 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. 

The election’s original deadline was last Friday October 22 but the VEC extended the voting period by a week following the so-far unexplained loss of some 9000 ballot packs representing almost one-third of the municipality’s 30,000 or so constituents.

The affected ballot packs, all of which were for voters whose surnames start with the letters A to G, are thought to have gone missing somewhere between the VEC’s contracted printing and distribution firms, and Australia Post.

Those ballot packs addressed to voters whose names begin with the letters H to Z arrived at their intended destinations as expected.

A formal investigation by the VEC into the A to G ballot pack mystery began last Thursday October 14 after it had received escalating numbers of requests for duplicate ballot papers from A to G voters from throughout the shire.

The VEC ordered a re-issue of the A to G packs on Friday October 15, and then made certain that the reprinted papers were lodged for mailing with Australia Post on Monday October 18.

The re-issued packs started to arrive in A to G voters’ letterboxes on Tuesday October 19.

The VEC advises that “this extended [Friday October 29] deadline applies to all voters eligible to vote in the South Gippsland Shire Council election, including those who have already received ballot packs with the original deadline date printed on them.”

A VEC spokesman said those voters who have received more than one ballot pack because they had already asked for a replacement pack before their re-issued pack came through are asked to “complete and return either one, and destroy the other.

“We have strong systems in place to ensure that if anyone was to somehow accidentally complete and return two votes, the Election Manager will compare the signatures and, if they match, will admit the vote dated earliest,” the spokesman said.

“So, voters are assured that there’s no chance of multiple voting occurring.”

Election “bungle” needs answers – O’Brien

 The State Government has been called on to provide a full investigation and explanation for the bungle that left a third of South Gippsland Shire residents without ballot papers until a week or more after other voters had received theirs.

 Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said he was very concerned that one of three batches of ballot papers had not been mailed to voters ahead of the South Gippsland Shire Council election.

 “I am calling on the State Government to fully investigate this mistake and provide a fully transparent report on what went wrong,” Mr O’Brien said.

 “The VEC has indicated that Australia Post did not send the 9,000 missing ballot papers, but we need to have an idea of where the system fell down.

 “I am pleased that the VEC agreed to extend voting by a week, but this should never have happened,” he said.

 “The date of the election was set more than two years ago when the former Council was dismissed and with only one election across the state there should be no excuses with respect to resourcing.

 “I’m also asking the Government to assure us that the election is completely fair and transparent.

 “It’s great to have democracy back in South Gippsland Shire and it’s disappointing that we have experienced this mistake,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Hopefully we can look to a brighter future under a new council.”

• Prom Country Aged Care’s Prom Country House residents Malcolm Ellis and Robert O’Brien are delighted with their brand-new male-themed quilts made for them by Corner Inlet district craftspeople from materials donated by Sam’s Patch in Foster and Australian wholesalers Victorian Textiles, and Kennard & Kennard Fabrics.


South Gippsland Shire Council missing A to G ballot packs

AN Australia Post spokesperson told The Mirror that “Australia Post has a long-standing commitment to supporting electoral commissions across Australia in the delivery of transparent, effective, and impartial elections across all levels of government, and we work hard every time there is an election to ensure the successful delivery and return of postal ballots, this includes prioritising election mail within our network. 

“We can confirm that all ballots were received by Australia Post but due to a processing error in addition to challenges presented by the pandemic, additional COVIDsafe measures in our facilities and the significant volumes of parcels coming through our network, some ballots for the South Gippsland Shire Council elections were delayed and not delivered as planned.  

“As soon as we were made aware of this we worked closely with the Victorian Electoral Commission to deliver re-issued ballot papers for voters as quickly as possible. “We are undertaking a thorough review of our processes to prevent this from happening again.”


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