Multiple voting in Australia has skyrocketed in the last four years, a practice that has significant potential to corrupt the Australian electoral system. Of the thousands of Aussies voting twice in the same elections, many have admitted to doing so “while drunk.”
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 cases of multiple voting were recorded in 2010. In 2013, 8,000 cases occurred. Voting is compulsory in Australia, and the system is designed so that it is possible for someone to fill out an absentee ballot and also vote in a polling station on Election Day, or visit multiple polling stations and vote more than once. As ABC Australia further explains, “A person may go to a polling place, claim to be another person whom they know is on the roll for that division, have that person’s name marked off the certified list, and cast another vote.” Doing so can severely corrupt the accuracy of the electoral system.
The Australian Electoral Commission reached out to those who had voted multiple times, attempting to get an explanation. The commission discovered that “2000 people have admitted to voting multiple times at the 2013 federal election, offering explanations including being drunk, confused or trying out the system.” One Australian legislator, liberal Senator Dean Smith, described the situation as “funny but not a laughing matter.” The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is set to launch an official investigation, both into those who provided explanations for their actions and those who did not adequately respond to Australian Electoral Commission inquiries.
“Previously when someone gave us one of those reasons, we accepted those and in many cases did not refer those to the AFP,” acting Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers explained to ABC Australia. Engaging the police in preventing this type of fraud will likely jolt potential multiple voters into being more careful about how they vote, lest they incur the wrath of law enforcement. This was pivotal to keeping the integrity of the voting system, he stated, because “a voter’s faith in and engagement with the electoral system rests on an assurance that each person in a polling place has the same opportunity, but only the same opportunity, to vote.”
The Australian Election Commission has previously used a number of innovative methods, including Facebook, to attract people to sign into government websites and register to vote, avoiding a fine.