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Disinformation about the forthcoming election

The Australian Electoral Commission has found it necessary to create a disinformation register.

Keep in mind that the AEC only address issues to do with the election and voting conduct not the claims by parties or candidates about their own worth or policy. Needless to say these claims have taken on a life of their own on social media.

Here are some of the more interesting furphies:

  • There will be two federal elections in 2022 including the ‘people’s non-corporate commonwealth election’

  • Dominion voting machines will be used and will be “rigged” to favour one of the major political parties

  • Australian voters who are not fully vaccinated will not be able to vote.

  • A vote of no confidence (VONC) has the potential to cause the entire election to be re-run.

  • Liberal National Party how-to-vote cards were included in material given to new Australian citizens.

  • Postal voting is not secure and people should ‘deregister’

  • Blank ballots and ‘donkey votes’ are counted for the incumbent Government.

  • The AEC are aligned to the Liberal Party [or the Labor Party]

To read the explanation follow the link above.

Some of these are obviously partisan lobbying at work. Others are more in the category of public mischief - similar to pubescent boys blocking public toilets with plastic bags - the attention and commotion generated is worth it regardless of the reason.

More alarming to me is that some seem to be aimed at the process itself. I can see that some candidates for minor parties might want to create, or add to, dissatisfaction with major parties but who benefits from calling into doubt the whole electoral process and the impartiality of the AEC?

So far our elections have not plumbed the depths of idiocy that they have overseas but with the aid of social media and its amazing ability to amplify nonsense instead of wisdom we could follow.

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Some feel like the slimy electioneering that went on in the recent US elections (e.g. insecure postal votes, Dominion). I wonder if they are being spread by disaffected people from there.

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Well so far, to my surprise, I have yet to see a single Facebook push post in my feed, and not even one robocall or sms on my mobile.
Still, it’s early days.

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It does. But why? Maybe it is from the grass roots, those who are desperate for change, any change, and haven’t thought it through. Maybe it is from the extreme candidates who will do anything for attention and are trying to milk anti-vaccs and other special interest sentiments in order to steal some votes from the major parties.

The side of this I find very difficult to deal with is not so much the vested interests that want to manipulate but the voters who are easily manipulated. It isn’t just over complex issues such as the effectiveness or safety of vaccines but much simpler matters of fact. Voters ought to know that crossing out the printed candidates and writing VONC on their ballot paper does nothing but render their vote informal. But it gets passed on and liked by thousands.

I wonder if anyone has surveyed 18 YO students or recent school leavers to find out if they understand the mechanics of how to successfully cast their vote? Are they ever taught this? If there are there any high school teachers here who know perhaps they could tell us.

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The major parties are doing that all by themselves. :wink:

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This is almost right - if you get your postal voting papers via one of the major parties.

Why is this even still legal? No need to answer that.

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Likewise. Not a peep. But also likewise not a single election flyer in the mail box, either. I know the local MP but I have no idea who is running against her, what their policies are, or what party they might represent (if any)

There is full on attention from the media, and then a multitude of social media options. Assuming the majors are targeting electorates and voters strategically, is there just one small benefit of being taken for granted if in a safe seat?

Or is it one small gesture to the environment and a small forest saved from being turned into ink rich glossies.

Damn I hate those. I imagine in the last week there will be a flurry of advertising. This is a very safe Labor Seat, but the LNP is apparently intending to have a go.

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I have just downloaded the very helpful who are you voting for from the electoral commission website to see who is standing in my seat and from which party. On the senate form why is there more than one person you have to vote for from the same party.

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The following AEC web site provides guidance on how to correctly complete each voting form including one for the Senate.

Why it is and how it is has changed several times since I first voted. The best answer to your question - it’s how the majority of our politicians have decided it needs to be.

There’s no disinformation involved unless one goes to another site that is not the AEC. Alternate advice should be ignored if your vote is to be counted.

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In the Senate, there are 6 seats to fill in each state, so each party puts up multiple candidates. The major parties typically win 2 seats each, and the order given ‘below the line’ usually determines which candidates get a seat.
If you only want to vote for parties, then vote ‘above the line’.

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While this is true as written, it is not true in a double dissolution election and it is also not true in the two territories.

That is true, but I thought that I would just keep it simple and talk about this senate election, which is a typical half senate election with 6 seats per state.
The territories have 2 seats each and both those are up for election every 3 years. Senators from the territories have 3 year terms, not 6 year terms as their state senators do.

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One of the difficulties is trying to explain what is already on the AEC website.

There are those about intent on encouraging others to mark their votes in ways that may not comply with Electoral Act.

Hopefully that is sufficient.

The AEC itself is a mine of disinformation and contradictory advice.

For the senate, and above the line voting, they say you have to number at least 1 through 6 in the party squares. You can do more if you like. But less than 6 or duplicate a number and your vote will be invalid.

But the AEC mentions ‘vote saving provisions’ and when you check out the electoral act section 269, it is perfectly acceptable to above the line simply number 1 in one box (or for that matter a cross or tick) and no others for your vote to be valid and counted.

Political parties know this and simply encourage you to vote 1 for their party.

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Yes, it is a difficult area. The guiding principle is that noone whose intention is clear will be denied a vote.

That particular section is quite new. Maybe they got it wrong and should have legislated what the AEC is saying i.e. (for above the line) you must validly number 1 through 6 otherwise your vote is invalid and will be discarded.

(Edit: Part of the problem is that this section was rushed through close to an election, leaving insufficient time to educate the masses. Typical rubbish governance.)

An added complication is Australia’s diversity of voting systems i.e. voters are understandably confused when their state’s or their territory’s voting system differs from the federal voting system. I think this is a Day 1 constitutional error but too late now …

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It doesn’t say your vote will be invalid and the effect of duplication is not mentioned, it says:

If you vote above the line, you need to number at least six boxes from 1 to 6.

There is a difference between a vote that is informal and a vote that is formal but less value than it could be by becoming exhausted due to insufficient preferences.

Like many organisations that have to deal with complex rules the AEC has to choose between explaining every detail, and possibly losing people or confusing them, and simplifying the material but obscuring some details.

I take the view that the simplification is benign because numbering 6 boxes instead of the legal minimum 1 can only improve the influence of your vote - not reduce or destroy it. If they said only one is required they would then have to explain that in some cases 1 will not be as good as 6 and so 6 is generally preferred.

For the same reason it does not qualify as disinformation, which is the dissemination of deliberately false information. If you want to call their words false then you have to say that any time an authority makes a statement that simplifies and does not cover the whole truth in every detail those are false too.

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It certainly does say that your vote will be NOT be counted if you deviate in any way from the number at least 1 to 6 above the line.

Try it yourself. Go to AEC how to vote and try their practice voting and get it wrong. Mark_m posted the link.

Then click on the note, about vote saving measures and find out that the AEC are telling voters something that they themselves know is blatantly wrong and unsupported by the electoral act.

For the Senate, I number every box below the line to ensure my preferences are given to the potential Senators in the order I want. Thus above the line has no bearing on the validity of my vote. Of course every box must be numbered for the House of Reps to be a valid vote.