The Committee's recommendations are
Management of ballot papers
R1 (paragraph 2.95) The Committee recommends that for future elections, the Australian Electoral Commission publish information on its website about ballot paper counting and handling issues on a regular and transparent basis during the count process.
R2 (paragraph 2.118) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission report to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters every six months on the implementation of recommendations made by the Keelty Report and by the Australian National Audit Office reports in response to the events of the 2013 federal election.
3 Workforce management, accountability and corporate structure
R3 (paragraph 3.54) The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider and assess the formal separation of the roles of state manager and Australian Electoral Officer involving: the appointment of Australian Electoral Officers independent of the Australian Electoral Commission; and the assigning of any non-election duties of Australian Electoral Officers to the Electoral Commissioner or other appropriate officer.
R4 (paragraph 3.64) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission formalise all state manager positions to report on all election and roll management programme deliverables directly to the First Assistant xix Commissioners responsible for election and roll management programme business in order to ensure consistency and accountability. The Committee also recommends that all existing state managers be assessed for continued suitability in their positions, with new contracts to be drawn up with clear performance expectations and disciplinary and termination triggers stipulated as terms of employment.
R5 (paragraph 3.140) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission develop a set of formal qualifications/certification for polling officials.
R6 (paragraph 3.142) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission prioritise development of appropriate changes to existing systems, or new systems, to allow for the compulsory recording and capture of data related to Division-level face-to-face training for polling officials.
R7 (paragraph 3.144) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission ensure that Officers-in-Charge of polling places be given a list of training completion for all staff reporting to them.
R8 (paragraph 3.160) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission develop a full set of relevant key performance indicators for all senior service delivery staff, to be measured and reported to the Parliament as part of federal election inquiry reporting.
R9 (paragraph 3.194) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission commence a corporate culture, leadership and performance measurement reform programme. This programme should be formulated in consultation with the Australian Public Service Commission and a suitably qualified organisational culture and management consultant, gained through an open market tender. This programme should then be overseen by a committee comprising: the Electoral Commissioner; the Auditor-General; the Australian Public Service Commissioner; and an appropriately qualified private industry or academic subject matter expert on organisational culture and performance management.
4 Election preparation and the pre-poll period
R10 (paragraph 4.28) The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 be amended to require a confirmation to be sought and received from a person prior to their enrolment being added or updated on the electoral roll due to any Federal Direct Enrolment or Update activity.
R11 (paragraph 4.72) The Committee recommends that at the next meeting of the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand, the Electoral Commissioner continue to engage with the state electoral commissions regarding normalisation and harmonisation of electoral roll use and purpose.
R12 (paragraph 4.120) The Committee recommends that section 200BA of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and section 73AA of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 be amended to provide that notification of pre-poll locations, or potential locations, be made directly to candidates if publication is to be later than two days before the first pre-poll voting day.
R13 (paragraph 4.145) The Committee recommends that the Australian Government examine the future viability of the broadcast media blackout.
Election day and the count
R14 (paragraph 5.12) The Committee recommends that section 206 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and section 20 of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 be amended so as to allow the Australian Electoral Commission to provide a suitable pen for use by electors.
R15 (paragraph 5.26) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission clearly set out on its website the requirements for satisfying subsection 194(1A) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and subsection 65(1A) of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 by overseas electors who are unable to satisfy the ‘authorised witness’ requirements of those sections.
R16 (paragraph 5.46) The Committee recommends that, in areas with a significant Indigenous population, the Australian Electoral Commission consult with local Indigenous groups to ensure the suitability of polling places and set targets for the employment of Indigenous polling officials.
R17 (paragraph 5.84) The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 be amended to introduce the requirement that:
- voters must present a form of acceptable identification to be issued with an ordinary pre-poll or election day vote. Acceptable identification should be defined as those acceptable at the 2015 Queensland state election (or the closest federal equivalent);
- where voters cannot provide acceptable identification they must be issued with a declaration vote; and
- these declaration votes will be checked at preliminary scrutiny to ensure that the claimed enrolled address matches the electoral roll. If not, then the vote should be rejected.
The Committee also recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission be appropriately resourced to enable this change to be made prior to the next federal election and for a suitable education campaign to be undertaken to inform voters of the new requirements.
R18 (paragraph 5.124) The Committee recommends that the conduct of recount provisions at section 279B and elsewhere within Part XVIII of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 be reviewed, amended and separated in order to provide clearly separated recount provisions and processes for both House of Representatives and Senate recounts. Additionally, any other relevant references to recounts within the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 should be amended to ensure consistency.
R19 (paragraph 5.136) The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 be amended to ensure that:
- the rules governing the role of scrutineers during both the scrutiny and the re-count of ballot papers during an election or referendum are harmonised;
- all scrutineers for a candidate, party or other appointee may only object to a ballot paper once during the original scrutiny, once during fresh scrutiny, and once during a re-count;
- the role of scrutineers in the investigation of prematurely opened ballot-boxes is clearly codified in section 238B; and
- political party officials or candidates are able to appoint scrutineers on behalf of all their party candidates in order to allow for the oversight of both House of Representatives and Senate counts or recounts with the one appointment.
R20 (paragraph 5.164) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission investigate the early procurement of appropriate premises in each state and territory for central ballot paper scrutiny and election activity with a high level of security and appropriate facilities and infrastructure.
6 Electoral cycle issues
R21 (paragraph 6.66) The Committee recommends that section 290 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 be amended to allow for the deadline for the nomination of candidate agents to be one week after the close of candidate nominations.
R22 (paragraph 6.86) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission hold regular by-invitation forums, at appropriate points in each electoral cycle, with the federal directors and registered officers of political parties in order to achieve improved engagement on relevant legislative, policy and procedural matters.
R23 (paragraph 6.116) The Committee recommends that the Australian Electoral Commission consider undertaking, in consultation with the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, a wholesale review of the internal consistency and operational adequacy of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 in order to ensure that this Act is a cohesive, effective and contemporary piece of legislation that facilitates best practice election delivery. Such a review would also need to proceed in tandem with progressing the consolidation and harmonisation of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 so as to create one consolidated Act responsible for federal elections and referenda.
R24 (paragraph 6.118) The Committee recommends that adequate resourcing be allocated and prioritised to fund and support the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report.