Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 26 September 2019) . . Page.. 3943 ..
The bill implements a key government commitment to allow people to enrol to vote until the close of the poll on election day and is another example of the government’s track record of meeting its election commitments. Currently in the ACT, the roll closes on the 29th day before election day. The changes made by today’s bill will mean that people not already on the electoral roll will be able to enrol to vote right up to close of polling on election day, and this will ensure that Canberrans’ opportunity for participation at the ACT elections is maximised.
Today’s bill also meets the government’s commitment to enhance public confidence in our elections and our government. It does this by requiring the full name of individuals responsible for the electoral material and the names of entities to be included in authorising statements when electoral materials are disseminated.
The Electoral Act currently only requires that the name of the person who authorised the matter or its author be included in the authorisation statement. This means that a person could currently comply using the initial of their first name and their last name. The bill will make clear that an individual is required to disclose their full name. Madam Speaker, this will improve transparency and more readily enable the identification of people who are responsible for electoral material. This will promote accountability in ensuring that the community is able to identify the source of disseminated electoral material. Ensuring that participants in the electoral system are able to be fully informed about the source of electoral material will strengthen our democratic society.
The ACT electoral system, the Hare-Clark system, is a form of proportional representation voting system which uses a single transferable vote to determine final vacancies. Under this system, surplus votes from an elected candidate are distributed to continuing candidates in the form of a vote value. Currently the fractions of vote values are ignored and are rounded down to the nearest whole number. The bill makes amendments to round down vote transfer values to six decimal places, which will achieve a greater level of accuracy and ensure that any rare possibility of unfair or anomalous election results is minimised.
The Select Committee into the 2016 Election and Electoral Act heard evidence that during the 2016 ACT election a significant number of electoral advertising signs placed alongside public roads had not been approved and did not comply with the requirements of the movable signs code of practice. The bill will allow authorised officers to remove non-compliant electoral advertising signs from public unleased land immediately. The amendment will support an equitable and transparent electoral process by ensuring that people and entities who do not comply with the Code of Practice are not gaining an unfair advantage.
As a safeguard to protect the right to political expression, the bill also provides that following the immediate removal of signs the authorising officer must take reasonable steps to give the owner of the sign a written notice of its removal. This notice will provide details of when and from where the sign may be collected. An affected party will also be able to seek a review of a decision to remove a sign in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.