UPDATE, Friday December 7, 7am
The Victorian Electoral Commission has called for a full preference distribution recount in the marginal seat of Ripon.
The VEC spent all of Thursday conducting a full third round of re-checks but announced on Thursday evening “a further full recount preference distribution will take place from 9am at the Ripon District Election Office”.
Labor’s Sarah De Santis led Liberal’s Louise Staley by 31 votes at the end of preference distribution.
Thursday, 6 December, 7.45am
SARAH De Santis is one step closer to being elected as the new Ripon MP after counting finished with the Labor candidate just 31 votes ahead of Liberal Louise Staley.
But Ms De Santis is not quite ready to take her seat in Victoria’s lower house just yet, with final declarations still to be announced, expected today or tomorrow.
Ms De Santis said there was still a long way to go, believing there may still be a chance of a recount.
“I’m sure there will be a push for a recount,” Ms De Santis said. “It’s not just one position, there’s staff involved, there’s people’s livelihoods as well, there’s a lot involved for a lot of people.
“We always thought it could not get any closer than .8 of a per cent, I guess we were wrong about that.
“But right now, it’s all in the hands of the Victoria Electoral Commission.”
The VEC confirmed late on Wednesday afternoon a recount had been requested.
Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM said in consultation with the election manager, and given the close scrutiny and attention given to the count during the rechecking process and the preference distribution, scrutiny would continue.
“Given the margin of 31 votes, and to assure candidates that all ballot papers have been examined at least three times, a further check of first preference ballot papers and informal ballot papers will be conducted,” he said.
Ms De Santis said she had tried to remain calm despite the long wait to determine the seat since polls closed on November 24.
“You put in all the effort possible in the lead up to the election, but after election day, there’s nothing more you can do,” she said.
At the close of counting and preference distribution, Ms De Santis leads with 20,030 votes, compared to Ms Staley’s 19,999.
It is understood the result could be one of the tightest ever and could equal that of federal seat McEwen in 2007.
In that election Labor's Rob Mitchell was ahead by six votes after the first count but a review gave a 12-vote victory to the Liberal Fran Bailey. A court challenge to some ballots extended that lead to 31.
The closest ever count was in 1999 when the seat of Geelong was decided by just 16 votes. In 2006, Ferntree Gully was decided by 27 votes.
In 1985, under a different voting system, the upper house seat of Nunawading produced a tied result which saw the Labor candidate Bob Ives win after having his name drawn out of a hat.
A subsequent court order for a by-election saw Liberal candidate Rosemary Varty elected.
Numerous attempts were made to contact Ms Staley for comment on Wednesday.
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