Bendigo vote count examined

City of Greater Bendigo chief executive Craig Niemann is confident the right candidates were elected in last year’s ballot, but is seeking more information from the Victorian Electoral Commission. 

Dozens of people have reported voting in the council elections, only to receive apparent failure to vote notices from the VEC. 

They’re concerned their votes weren’t counted. The commission sent 9634 “please explain” letters to Bendigo residents, a two per cent increase on the 2008 elections.  Robert Brown said he and his wife delivered their ballots in person but both still received a failure to vote notice. 

“We have concerns about postal voting, as unlike the previous system where your vote is marked off on the electoral role, there is no hard evidence of delivery of your vote,” he said. 

Another resident, Michael Jerman, said he and wife Victoria placed their votes at a Kangaroo Flat post office box and received a notice. 

“I’m really concerned that the election votes are incorrect,” he said. 

But Mr Niemann said there were no indications at this stage that anything abnormal had occurred. “I’m not concerned about the results and having to do anything differently,” he said. 

“We’re not hearing anything abnormal. 

“There’s always a delay in people posting their votes and when they’re received.

“There will always be people whose ballots don’t arrive in time.

“It’s not a perfect system but it’s a good system. We’ve requested more information from the VEC this week.”

Mr Niemann said the council and public needed faith in the voting process. 

But he said the situation didn’t appear to be any different to previous elections.

A VEC spokesman said the body was awaiting responses from people with non-voting letters to see if there was a pattern to the irregularities but said their systems weren’t showing any issues. 

“Until people start talking to us directly, it’s just a media issue,” they said. 

“People haven’t told us directly that it’s an issue.”

Candidate Karen Corr, who placed fourth in the Lockwood Ward behind Barry Lyons, said she wasn’t concerned about the reports of uncounted votes. 

“I’d only take it further if an official approached me to say there had been a problem,” she said.

“I was short about 250 votes. 

“If the opportunity arose for me to be a councillor, of course I’d take that opportunity.

“But I’m not going to push forward on some votes that may not have been counted. 

“I’m fine with the process and there’s no reason to doubt the process.”

The VEC spokesman said it would take time to assess responses to see if there was an error in the ballot process and whether there needed to be discussions with Australia Post over the issue.

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