Mayor slams WAEC for dropping probe

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Camera IconPICTURE: DANELLA BEVIS Credit: Countryman

Town of Port Hedland Mayor Camilo Blanco has slammed the WA Electoral Commission for not “upholding the standards of democracy” after dropping its investigation into claims of vote tampering.

Mr Blanco and Town of Port Hedland chief executive David Pentz raised concerns after the local government election in October 2017 because of irregularities found with postal addresses of electors in the remote community of Warralong, 120km south of Port Hedland.

In an email to the WAEC, Mr Blanco said more than 100 Warralong residents had their postal addresses changed to the same two PO boxes before the election took place.

The investigation was referred to WA Police in April last year.

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In a letter obtained by the North West Telegraph, the WAEC told Mr Pentz there was insufficient evidence to identify an offender.

But the letter stated a number of residents said they had not voted in the election, despite the WAEC receiving signed ballot papers with their names on it.

It stated the number of votes in question would not have affected the outcome of the local government election.

Mr Blanco said the lack of action erodes the authenticity demanded by Australians in an election.

“The electoral commission has failed to uphold the standards of democracy through the electoral process,” he said.

“I know many people who have said they did not vote in the election but their postal ballot form was sent in,” he said.

“The most disadvantaged people have been taken advantage of again and there has been no action by authorities.”

Minister for Electoral Affairs Stephen Dawson told Parliament recently the investigation had been closed, after regular questioning from the Nationals Party.

“There is no evidence to show the mail was ever tampered with. There is insufficient evidence to proceed with Electoral Fraud,” he said.

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