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Thursday, 16 April 1914

Senator McCOLL - Yesterday afternoon Senator Newland brought before the Senate the question of the infliction of some fines, which, in his opinion, were unduly heavy, on three persons in Adelaide for offences against the Electoral Act. I have made an inquiry into the matter, and have been furnished with the following information : -

The Attorney-General is the only person who is authorized to deal with the reduction or remission of fines. Magistrates usually take into consideration all the facts when imposing penalties.

I suggest to the honorable senator that a petition should be sent in to the AttorneyGeneral, stating the facts, and asking for the exercise of some leniency. The matter does not come under my control at all. Senator O'Loghlin asked me a question yesterday with regard to an admission by a person before the Electoral Commission that, in direct contravention of the Electoral Act, while in one of the places provided for recording his vote, he directly removed the partition between that and another, and looked in to see what was being done there. I have been furnished by the Chief Electoral Officer with the following statement: -

I am aware of the incident referred to by Senator O'Loghlin through the evidence given by the person concerned before the Royal Commission. The elector in question, hearing voices in an adjoining compartment, stated that he pulled aside the cloth screen sufficiently to enable him to see whether two persons were in the compartment. It has not been alleged that he interfered with any elector in regard to the marking of his vote. The act was injudicious and improper, but does not call for action under the law.

The honorable senator also called my attention to an admission by another witness that, without a scrutineer's paper, he* was illegally within a polling booth. The information supplied to me with regard to that incident reads as follows: -

The Presiding Officer is in charge of the booth, and has power to remove any person improperly in the booth. No report has been received that any person refused to leave a booth when directed to do so.

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