Not so secret: Colin Barnett may have breached Electoral Act

Colin Barnett. Photo: AAP
Colin Barnett. Photo: AAP

OUTGOING Premier Colin Barnett may have breached the Electoral Act after filling out his vote in Saturday’s State Election, by simply not folding his ballot paper.

A picture of a ballot paper, reported to be Mr Barnett’s, ran on page four of The Sunday Times newspaper, accompanying an article entitled ‘how Col voted’.

The article analysed the order of Mr Barnett’s preferences.

Under the Electoral Act, of 1907, once you get a ballot paper you must “retire alone to an unoccupied voting compartment”, before marking your vote in private.

MORE: Seat of Jandakot set to go the wire

MORE: Stirling Mayor praises new Balcatta MLA David Michael

MORE: City of Rockingham to assume control of Aqua Jetty

You must then “fold the ballot paper so as to conceal the names of the candidates and then forthwith, without unfolding it, deposit it in the ballot box”.

Perth lawyer John Hammond said: “if you don’t comply with that, there could be a $1000 penalty and you could be prosecuted under the Electoral Act”.

According to Sunday Times editor Michael Beach, Mr Barnett “held up his ballot paper in front of media photographers and TV cameras”, allowing it to be photographed.

But the Premier said he did not consent to having his ballot paper photographed or published.

“He was not aware of the photograph being taken, nor did he display his ballot paper,” Mr Barnett’s secretary Nina Curtis told communitynews.com.au.

“If it (the photo) is his ballot paper, he was not aware of it.”

Australian elections have been conducted under secret ballot for more than 100 years.

The Western Australian Electoral Commission refused to answer questions on the matter.

The Commission’s website states: “It is the right of every elector to cast their vote in an environment which provides for a secret and independent ballot”.