Thousands cast donkey votes

Portrait of bride and groom by church
Portrait of bride and groom by church

The WA Electoral Commission says it is disappointed with an apparent increased level of ‘donkey votes’ and invalid ballot papers submitted across the State.

At the time the Courier went to press, 1301 ballots in Rockingham, 1547 in Kwinana and 1733 in Warnbro had been declared invalid. Each electorate had several thousand more votes to count.

At the 2008 election, 1097 Rockingham voters (5.5 per cent), 1149 Kwinana voters (5.7 per cent) and 1066 Warnbro voters (5.07 per cent) had their votes declared invalid.

WAEC communications manager Justin Harbord told the Courier that ‘at this stage (the level of invalid votes) does seem to be a little higher than last year. ‘It is in some ways a little early to make a full assessment,’ he said.

Mr Harbord said the WAEC would do further research to discover whether voters were submitting invalid ballots because of a lack of education or for ideological reasons relating to dissatisfaction with the political system.

The WAEC made several changes to the voting procedure this year to reduce the number of invalid votes, including changing the appearance of the ballot paper, running a media campaign and sending out ‘Easy Vote Cards’ to all registered voters.

‘If (misunderstanding) is the case then yes, it will be disappointing and it means we need to be a bit more concerted in our efforts.’

He said it was important to ensure voters understood the system as the Federal election in September and local government elections in October would send them to the polls again.

Secret Harbour resident Alicia Colley said she saw numerous invalid votes while counting at Safety Bay Primary School on Saturday night.

‘From what I counted of the pink ballot forms, every fourth or fifth vote of the 300 or 400 I counted was invalid due to the way the voter had written on the form,’ Mrs Colley said. ‘They didn’t read the instructions, and marked both sides, making it invalid.’

Mrs Colley said there were a few abusive comments placed on donkey votes.