Australian voting fraud increased by 125% in the 2016 Federal Election in comparison to the 2013 figures. In this years Federal Election over 18,000 people allegedly voted multiple times, a steep increase from the 2013 election with only around 8,000 multiple voters.
Although most were expected to be down to clerical error, two voters allegedly took to the polls eleven times, and similarly others had four or three registered votes along side their name.
At an estimates hearing in the Senate yesterday, the Australian Electoral Commissioner (AEC) Tom Rogers reported once again on voter fraud, explaining that 18,343 people would be asked to explain why their name was checked off more than once.
Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act if you are found guilty of casting multiple votes you could face up to a year in gaol or a $10,800 fine for your actions. Similarly if you are found to have impersonated another person at the ballot box, the penalties include six months in gaol or a $1,800 fine.
Despite these rules, not a single person was prosecuted for multiple votes at the 2013 Federal Election and it seems 2016 will follow suit. Of the suspected cases in 2013, a mere 65 cases were investigated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with no convictions recorded.
Back in 2014 the AEC reported to the Senate Estimates that those recording multiple votes in 2013 admitted they did so because they were either drunk, confused or wanting to try out the system.
AEC Commissioner Mr Roger said it would cost an extra $60 million in order to prevent such occurrences in future federal elections to introduce electronic alerts for voting clerks to check when someone had already voted.
The AEC implemented new measures this year to remind previous voting fraud offenders at risk of “not understanding their obligations” of the law. Commissioner Rogers explained that individuals were sent warning letters if they were found to have two or more marks next to their name at the 2013 and 2010 Federal Elections.
Adding, “We’ve never done that before. It was an attempt to demonstrate the seriousness with which we treat this particular issue.”
Mr Rogers and other AEC officials will compare their list of warning letter recipients to those recorded as having their name marked off more than once, but it is unsure if the Director of Public Prosecutions will charge any offenders this time around too.