Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An answer from the Chief Electoral office

The other day I wondered whether the Chief Electoral Office was breaking the law in the way they were announcing the election results. The Electoral Act seems to assume progressive, immediate reporting of results by electorate as they come in, rather than a single declaration when everything is complete. So, I asked them what the reason was for the delay and what the practical difficulties were. This is the response:

There is no delay in the declaration of the official results. The target to declare them is 2pm Saturday 22 November at

The official results have been declared in this manner for the last three elections (when, in 2002, the Electoral Act was amended to provide for the issue by the Governor General of a single writ to the Chief Electoral Officer rather than individual writs to each Returning Officer).

It is not practicable to declare the results progressively because the results of the party vote (a nationwide result) cannot be completed until all electorates are completed.

As Returning Officers complete the official counts for each electorate the Chief Electoral Office undertakes its own checks before the Chief Electoral Officer declares the official results. This work will take until Saturday when the results will be released as scheduled.

Which seems reasonable - but doesn't seem to be entirely what was contemplated by the law. It seems that 2002 amendment should have made a few tweaks elsewhere as well.

And the Chief Electoral office definitely gets my openness award for quick responses to OIA requests - they had this one back to me in a mere 44 hours. Most requests aren't even acknowledged in that timeframe, let alone answered.