CONCERN OVER COUNCIL VOTES

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 29-Jan-2013 UPDATE

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The Victorian Electoral Commission has claimed there is "no chance" a clerical error caused up to 100 votes in last year's Greater Bendigo council election to seemingly not be counted.

The Bendigo Weekly has been inundated with emails, phone calls and comments from locals who voted in the November postal election, but received letters last week saying they didn't.

Have you voted and were told you didn't? Email news@bendigoweekly.com.au or call 54402530.  

"The only answer is we haven't received it, for whatever reason," a VEC spokesperson said.

"We need all of the responses from the people who received the letters.

"The only thing I can think of is they have posted it too late."

The VEC is asking all those affected to provide them with information such as when and where they posted their ballot papers, to allow them to investigate.

Have you voted and were told you didn't? Email news@bendigoweekly.com.au or call 54402530.  

Most people who spoke to the Weekly, and posted in facebook and www.bendigoweekly.com.au, said they sent it well within the deadline.

The VEC spokesperson said once they had received the responses from the public, they would look for patterns and then investigate it further, including talking to Australia Post.

However, those who posted the ballots seem to have done so at different times and at different post offices throughout Bendigo, although there were a large number from the Lockwood Ward.

Michelle was a good example of a typical response.

"I live in Kangaroo Flat and I posted my ballot along with my husbands at the same time, on the same day as I received it in the mail," she said.

"My husband received a letter saying his was not received but I did not.
 
"I am annoyed that they are putting the blame on to us saying we must have posted it late because ours would have been one of the first back. 

"Besides they obviously received mine, so what they did with my husband's, who knows?"

 

EARLIER

The Victorian Electoral Commission has moved to calm the fears of Bendigo voters after a number were concerned their vote in last year’s council election was not counted.

The Bendigo Weekly is aware of about 100 voters who received letters last week asking for an explanation why they didn’t vote, when they did.

Have you voted and were told you didn't? Email news@bendigoweekly.com.au or call 54402530.

They all claim they voted well before the deadline of the day before the election.

Sarah Lawrence, who lives in Golden Square, voted but received a letter asking her to explain why she didn't.

She said she was concerned her vote didn’t count.

“I went to a lot of trouble to follow the campaign very closely and took it very seriously,” she said.

“The fear is my vote didn’t count.

“Are the people who were elected the people we voted for?

“It could have all added up. 30 people could have changed the result.”

Have you voted and were told you didn't? Email news@bendigoweekly.com.au or call 54402530 

Noelene Fraser said her and her husband posted their votes in different post boxes in different suburbs.

“They make us vote and follow us up, but it might not have counted,” she said.

The Frasers live in Kangaroo Flat, and Mrs Fraser said her husband called the VEC,and was told there was an “epidemic” in Bendigo.

Lauren and husband James of Maiden Gully were in the same boat.

"(We) both received a letter today saying we didn’t vote and explain why, however we both did a postal vote and sent it in straight away from the Maiden Gully Post Office and they both were not received.

"I found this very strange that both would be lost. We voted for the same councillor so that is two less votes for the same candidate.

"I forwarded back the form this afternoon explaining that I had voted and it was sent. I wont be happy if I get a fine when I have done the right thing."

Another Lockwood Ward resident had a similar story.

"We filled out and posted our voting notices the same day they were received," she said.

"They were posted at the Golden Square Post Office.  Myself, my husband and our caughter all received the Failure to Vote Notices.  Once again we filled out the form and posted them back the same day. 

"They were also posted at the Golden Square Post office."

Another Bendigonian, the fourth, said both her and her family member had voted and were told they didn't.

"Myself, my husband an brother in-law all filled our forms out and they were all posted, by myself, at the same time," she said.

"Myself and my brother in-law both received the fail to vote letters yet my husband didn't!

"I believe we need a system where we can be assured that our voting papers have made it, for exampledan online option where a receipt number can be issued or a drop off point where we can see that our names have been marked off."

She said those who received the letters but had voted should fill in the details on the form and send it back.

“It may be we did receive them, but as a result of a clerical errors they received a letter,” she said.

“Once we receive their responses we will go back and look at how the vote was crossed off.

About 9600 people were sent a letter last week asking why they didn't vote in the 2012 poll.

Have you voted and were told you didn't? Email news@bendigoweekly.com.au or call 54402530 

Lauren commented on 29-Jan-2013 03:55 PM5 out of 5 stars
I voted and so did my husband and we both recieved a letter today saying we didnt, we voted the same way so that is 2 votes for the same councillor not counted
Ray Smith commented on 29-Jan-2013 05:38 PM5 out of 5 stars
Yes we voted postal vote, and was sent a please explain. lady on phone said is there any proof at all that you can give us. that will clear you. They wanted to know when we sent it, from where, and could we prove it. this was last week.
wendy clark commented on 29-Jan-2013 07:02 PM5 out of 5 stars
we got t he you did not vote letter ours was posted same day it was delivered and posted from epsom post office they can fine me but i will not pay for someone elses screw up
Rob commented on 29-Jan-2013 10:54 PM5 out of 5 stars
It would be interesting to know if the 9600 letters sent out is even close to how many voters the VEC recorded as not voting at the time - this is an extraordinarily high number of failures to vote in Bendigo if it is correct! (ie Population approx 100,000 - assume that 75% of population 18yo or older: 9600 / 75000 did not vote?
chloe commented on 30-Jan-2013 10:38 AM5 out of 5 stars
My mum handed hers in to the beehive plaza where it said you could and she still got a letter asking why she didn't vote.
Rodney Jackson commented on 30-Jan-2013 04:25 PM5 out of 5 stars
As another couple, we also got the dreaded letter, did not vote. It is impossible to know who all these people, including my wife and I, voted for. Was the scrutiny a little lax in the returning officers parlour? Did someone have a favoured councillor that got in due to votes being spirited away??
I hope my explaination satisfies the government because I will NOT pay a fine that I do not deserve.

Rodney & Lynette Jackson
Jill Hooke commented on 31-Jan-2013 07:43 AM5 out of 5 stars
I voted as soon as I got the papers, and posted it within hours. Was my vote counted? It seems I have been denied my democratic right to have my say. This is extremely serious, and I am angry. I call on the Bendigo council to provide a reliable and transparent voting system for future elections.

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