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Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee—Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021—Report, dated October 2021


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October 2021

The Senate

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021

© Commonwealth of Australia 2021

ISBN 978-1-76093-302-9

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.

The details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

iii

Members

Chair Senator Claire Chandler LP, TAS

Deputy Chair Senator Tim Ayres ALP, NSW

Members Senator Kimberley Kitching ALP, VIC

Senator Matt O'Sullivan LP, WA

Senator James Paterson LP, VIC

Senator Malcolm Roberts PHON, QLD

Participating Members

Senator Larissa Waters AG, QLD

Secretariat Sarah Redden, Committee Secretary Kate Campbell, Principal Research Officer Trish Carling, Senior Research Officer Brooke Gay, Research Officer Michaela Keating, Administrative Officer

Website: www.aph.gov.au/senate fpa

PO Box 6100 E-mail: fpa.sen@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Ph: 02 6277 3846

Canberra ACT 2600 Fax: 02 6277 5809

v

Contents

Members ............................................................................................................................................. iii

Abbreviations ................................................................................................................................... vii

List of Recommendations ................................................................................................................. ix

Chapter 1—Introduction and key provisions of the bill ............................................................. 1

Referral .................................................................................................................................................. 1

Conduct of the inquiry ....................................................................................................................... 1

Acknowledgement .............................................................................................................................. 1

Report structure ................................................................................................................................... 1

Background ........................................................................................................................................... 1

Auditing ..................................................................................................................................... 2

Voter identification .................................................................................................................. 3

Key provisions of the bill ................................................................................................................... 4

Schedule 1 - Auditing ............................................................................................................. 4

Schedule 2 - Voter identification ........................................................................................... 5

Human rights compatibility statement ............................................................................................ 7

Chapter 2—Key issues and committee views ................................................................................ 9

Views on the bill ................................................................................................................................... 9

Lack of evidentiary support .................................................................................................... 9

Auditing .................................................................................................................................. 12

Voter identification ................................................................................................................ 13

Committee views .............................................................................................................................. 17

Additional Comments - Australian Labor Party ......................................................................... 19

Additional Comments - Australian Greens ................................................................................. 21

Dissenting Report - Senator Malcolm Roberts ............................................................................ 25

Appendix 1—Submissions .............................................................................................................. 31

vii

Abbreviations

AEC Australian Electoral Commission

AHRC Australian Human Rights Commission

ANAO Australian National Audit Office

ASD Australian Signals Directorate

Bill Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of

Elections) Bill 2021

Committee Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee Electoral Act Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 EM Explanatory Memorandum

JSCEM Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

ix

List of Recommendations

Recommendation 1

2.48 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 not be passed.

1

Chapter 1

Introduction and key provisions of the bill

Referral 1.1 On 1 September 2021, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 (the bill) was introduced to the Senate on behalf of Senator Malcolm Roberts, as a private senator’s bill.1

1.2 On the same day, pursuant to the 11th report of 2021 of the Senate Standing Committee for the Selection of Bills, the bill was referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 14 October 2021.2

Conduct of the inquiry 1.3 Details of the inquiry and the bill were made available on the committee's website. The committee also contacted a number of government departments, electoral commissions, organisations and individuals inviting submissions to

the inquiry, by 20 September 2021.

1.4 The committee received 12 public submissions, which are available on the committee’s webpage and detailed at Appendix 1. The committee completed its inquiry on the basis of these submissions and on other publically available information on the bill.

Acknowledgement 1.5 The committee thanks those organisations and individuals who provided written submissions to the inquiry.

Report structure 1.6 The report consists of two chapters. This chapter provides a background to the legislation and summarises the provisions of the bill and its two Schedules.

1.7 Chapter 2 presents the key issues raised in evidence about the bill and details the committee’s views and recommendation.

Background 1.8 The bill seeks to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act), to provide for the routine auditing of the electronic component of future Australian federal elections, and for the provision of voter identification at

1 Journals of the Senate, No. 120, 1 September 2021, pp. 4058-4059.

2 Journals of the Senate, No. 121, 2 September 2021, p. 4086.

2

federal elections. The Explanatory Memorandum (EM) clarifies that the bill does not cover referendums.3

Auditing 1.9 Noting that the Electoral Act does not currently include provisions for the auditing of technology in an election, the EM suggests that an ‘independent audit of the use of electronic measures in each Federal election will ensure

improved confidence’ in the election results. It is argued that this is especially important for the upcoming federal election:

... given the heightened emotions surrounding COVID measures. Unexpected outcomes could be exploited for the benefit of those with a malicious agenda which may lead to violence.

It is essential that the level of trust in the result is commensurate with the current heightened level of risk.4

1.10 The EM observes that while the Auditor-General undertook an audit of the 2016 Federal Election, this is ‘the last known election audit for which details have been published’.5 The bill therefore seeks to create a function for the Auditor-General to in future audit the operation of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) twice in each election cycle at the following times:

 in the lead-up to an election; and  from when polling opens to the declaration of the poll.6

1.11 Focusing only on electronic measures, the intent of such audits would be to determine whether the use of authorised technology ‘produces the same result as would be obtained without the use of authorised technology’.7

1.12 One of the main intents of Schedule 1 is summarised in the EM as:

… asking the Auditor-General to ensure that the use of computerised voter rolls, tallying and preference allocations produced a result that accurately reflects the will of the people expressed in that election.8

3 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

4 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

5 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.] See also: Australian National Audit Office, ANAO Report No. 25 2017-18: Australian Electoral Commission’s Procurement of Services for the Conduct of the 2016 Federal Election, January 2018, https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/aec-procurement-services-conduct-2016-federal-election (accessed 20 September 2021).

6 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

7 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

3

1.13 The EM goes on to note that the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is currently conducting a cyber ‘uplift program’ at the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). However, the EM suggests that, while the program is ‘most welcome’, the Electoral Act contains no provisions to support the program. The bill therefore seeks to bring ‘legislation into line with current practice’.9

1.14 The bill would authorise the ASD to ‘audit and monitor computer systems for unauthorised access internally and externally’, targeting both ‘unauthorised access from within the system and unauthorised external access by hackers or malicious entities’.10

Voter identification 1.15 In December 2020, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) presented its report into the conduct of the 2019 federal election, and related matters. The JSCEM echoed its recommendation of 2016 that legislative

amendments be made requiring voters to present a form of acceptable identification to cast a pre-poll or election day vote.11

1.16 The bill, at Schedule 2, aims to give effect to JSCEM Recommendation 21 (excluding referendums) which states, in part, that:

 voters must present a form of acceptable identification to be issued with an ordinary pre-poll or election day vote. Authorised identification must be suitably broad so as to not actively prevent electors from casting an ordinary ballot.12

1.17 The bill would allow a wide range of acceptable voter identification to be provided, with the EM explaining that the bill is drafted to:

… add voter identification to the existing exchange that occurs with the voting officer at the time of voting, which asks if the person has voted already and so on.

8 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

9 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 2.]

10 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 1.]

11 Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Report on the conduct of the 2019 federal election and

matters related thereto, December 2020, pp. 142-143.

12 Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, Report on the conduct of the 2019 federal election and

matters related thereto, December 2020, p. 143.

4

The Commonwealth Electoral Act (Integrity of Elections Bill) 2021 is about protecting confidence in our elections. The use of voter identification is integral to that confidence.13

Key provisions of the bill 1.18 The bill contains two schedules, detailed below.

Schedule 1 - Auditing 1.19 Schedule 1 would amend Part XIXA of the Electoral Act to allow the Auditor-General to conduct audits of the use of authorised technology at federal elections.

1.20 New section 286AA at Item 1 of the bill would define ‘authorised technology’ as any technology authorised or required by the Electoral Act to be used, for example that used in an election. This would include computer hardware and software and communication equipment. A definition of ‘cyber security of a federal election’ means:

… that the authorised technology used during the election is protected from access, interference and impairment by unauthorised parties; and only accessible by authorised parties.14

1.21 Proposed section 286AB provides for the Auditor-General to conduct audits of the use of authorised technology at federal elections, and to provide the results of the audit to the Electoral Commissioner:

 at least seven days before voting commences in each federal election; and  within 60 days after the return of the writs for each federal election.15

1.22 The proposed section specifies that the Auditor-General must conduct its audit and provide recommendations to the Electoral Commissioner with regard to ‘reducing or eliminating any risks to authorised technology that could affect the security, accuracy or integrity of voting’. In forming these

recommendations, the amendments state that the audit must determine whether the use of authorised technology:

 produces the same result as would be obtained without the use of authorised technology; or  if it is used to store information—replicates the information that would be stored without the use of authorised technology. 16

13 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 2.]

14 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 3.]

15 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 3.]

5

1.23 New section 286AC of the Electoral Act would clarify that the bill relates to all future elections. Noting that the next federal election must be held by May 2022, the EM explains that:

… if the next election is called within 6 weeks of this Bill commencing, then an advance audit will not be conducted owing to time constraints. The post-election audit will still occur and be provided to the AEC within 60 days of the return of writs. Nothing in this section limits the Auditor-General from exercising their powers under this bill.17

1.24 Proposed section 286AD relates to the ASD and would provide the ASD with authority to ‘prevent and disrupt any interference with the cyber integrity of federal elections’, during the following periods:

 starting at the issue of writs for a federal elections; and  ending at the return of writs for that federal election.18

1.25 The Director-General of the ASD must then advise the Electoral Commissioner on the cyber integrity of each federal election.19

Schedule 2 - Voter identification 1.26 Item 1 of Schedule 2 would insert new subsection 4(1) into the Electoral Act, to insert definitions for a ‘community identity document’, ‘Indigenous person’ and ‘proof of identity document’. Under the bill proof of identity documents

include the following:

… current driver’s license, Australia[n] passport, proof of age card, enrolment to vote acknowledgement letter, local government or utility account, phone bill, income tax assessment notice and community identity document.20

1.27 Acceptable ‘community identity documents’ would be defined by rules under new section 394A of the Electoral Act, inserted by Item 12 of the bill. The bill would require the rules to be a legislative instrument which would prescribe:

 the circumstances in which a document is a community identity document;  the form of a community identity document; and

16 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Schedule 1, Part 1, 286AB

(3) and (4).

17 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 4.]

18 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 4.]

19 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Schedule 1, Part 1,

286AD(3). Part 2 of Schedule 1 makes consequential amendments to the Intelligence Services Act 2001 to confirm that the ASD has functions under the Electoral Act.

20 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 5.]

6

 matters ‘necessary or convenient to be prescribed in relation to the use of a community identity document as a proof of identity document’.21

1.28 Proposed subsections 394A(2) and (3) enables the rules to provide for the meaning of terms including ‘disadvantaged’, ‘remote area’ and ‘employee of a local health or welfare service’. The EM explains the intent of this provision:

The purpose is to enable the implementation of the part of

recommendation 21 [of the JSCEM report] that referred to enabling a local health or welfare service to vouch for the identity of itinerant voters, remote Indigenous voters, and disadvantaged persons. The rules must provide for an employee of a local health or welfare service to give a community identity document in relation to such a person if satisfied of their identity.22

1.29 The bill would make the necessary amendments to the Electoral Act to provide that approved identification documents are provided prior to voting. For example, Items 2 to 4 of the bill would amend subsections 200DG(1) and (2) to make a person’s entitlement to vote by pre-poll ordinary vote ‘contingent on the person showing their proof of identity document to a voting officer and the voting officer being reasonably satisfied of the person’s identity’.23

1.30 Items 5 and 6 of the bill would repeal and insert new sections into the Electoral Act (sections 200DI and 229), providing the requirements for voting officers, presiding officers or polling officials when deciding whether a person is eligible to vote by pre-poll ordinary vote, or in an election.24 Proposed subsection 229(3) also puts forward circumstances when persons claim to vote must be rejected.

1.31 In the event that a person’s identity is not rejected for failure to provide proof of identity, Item 7 would clarify that the person is entitled to receive a ballot paper.25

1.32 Items 8 to 11 would make provisions in relation to provisional votes. The EM explains that these items would amend section 235 of the Electoral Act to:

… provide that a person may be entitled to cast a provisional vote if they fail to show their proof of identity document to a voting officer or fail to

21 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Schedule 2, Item 12,

394A(1).

22 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 6.]

23 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 5.]

24 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 5.]

25 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Schedule 2, Item 7,

231(1)(a).

7

answer a question put to the voter under paragraph 229(1)(b), or the voting officer is not reasonably satisfied of the person’s identity.26

Human rights compatibility statement 1.33 The EM is accompanied by a Statement of Compatibility of Human Rights, which notes that the bill ‘engages the right to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections’. The Statement argues that the bill promotes this right, as:

The only way to know if a federal election is genuine and effective and expresses the will of the electors is to conduct an independent audit, and to make those results known.27

1.34 With regard to voter identification, the Statement suggests that such a process:

… ensures that all those who did vote legally are not denied the equal weight of their vote by those who voted illegally or multiple times. This is both the theory and the empirical evidence from voter identification laws.28

26 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Explanatory

Memorandum, [p. 5.]

27 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Statement of

Compatibility with Human Rights, [p. 1].

28 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Statement of

Compatibility with Human Rights, [p. 1].

9

Chapter 2

Key issues and committee views

2.1 This chapter details the key views and issues raised by stakeholders who submitted to the inquiry. In particular, this chapter considers:

 whether it has been established that the introduction of voter identification is warranted;  implementation issues with certain aspects of the bill, including the auditing process and verification of identity; and  concerns about the disenfranchisement of voters by requiring identification.

2.2 The chapter concludes with the committee's views and recommendation.

Views on the bill 2.3 There was limited support for the bill’s two main aims of auditing and requiring voter identification.1 For example, Mr Wayne Reilly suggested that the bill was important in light of recent events in the US, where ‘better scrutiny

and auditing’ by that country’s electoral commission could have counteracted lengthy and costly court proceedings challenging the results.2

2.4 However, the majority of submitters to the inquiry voiced concerns with a number of elements of the bill, and questioned whether there was an evidentiary basis to the issues the bill is seeking to address.

2.5 In addition, several submitters put forward proposals to amend the bill, noting that the bill’s provisions would not achieve its aims as currently drafted. For example, while supportive of the aims of the bill, Associate Professor Vanessa Teague was of the view that the bill does not meet its goals, and put forward a number of recommendations for amendment, if the bill were to proceed.

Lack of evidentiary support 2.6 In its submission to the inquiry, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) noted that there was a ‘well-established framework for scrutiny and review’ of elections. This included:

 the maintenance of an impartial and independent electoral system by the AEC, which includes ‘conducting electoral events, including federal elections, and ensuring confidence in the electoral roll’;

1 See, for example, Mr Axel Brendel, Submission 3; Mr Peter Kirby, Submission 4; Mr Wayne Reilly,

Submission 7.

2 Mr Wayne Reilly, Submission 7, p. 1.

10

 parliamentary oversight via the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), which can inquire into the electoral process and the conduct of federal electoral events; and  the reporting of the ANAO to the Parliament on the operations of the

executive arm of government, and ‘review or examination of a particular aspect of the operations of the AEC at any time’.3

2.7 The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) observed that while the EM to the bill argues that voter identification is needed because of ‘theory and the empirical evidence’, it does not provide ‘any information on the prevalence of voter fraud or how voter identification will address voter fraud’. The AHRC voiced concerns about the bill’s human rights impact and drew on the findings of the AEC which found that:

… not only is the incidence of multiple voting very small, it has also never been larger than the margin in any seat for a federal election. That is, it has never affected the outcome of an election.

Without further information on the prevalence of voter fraud, and noting the detailed evidence provided by the AEC to the JSCEM, the Commission considers the proposed requirement of voter identification is an unwarranted limitation to the exercise of the right to vote. Further, there

are a number of effective safeguards already in place to ensure free and fair elections.4

2.8 Likewise, Professor Graeme Orr observed that ‘Australian elections have a high level of integrity’, and that there is ‘no culture of trying to steal parliamentary elections in modern Australia’.5

2.9 Professor Orr continued that:

The broad ‘integrity’ claim for this Bill is not substantiated. The Explanatory Memorandum does not even try to argue there is an actual integrity deficit. Instead it claims it addresses some vague perceived integrity or trust problem. A need for trust in electoral processes is not unimportant. But where is evidence of a significant lack of trust, linked to the long-standing absence of a voter ID requirement in Australia? Even if there were empirical evidence that a significant subset of electors believe voter ID makes elections more secure, this invokes a somewhat circular claim: the clamour for voter ID by its proponents would be self-fulfilling.6

3 Australian National Audit Office, Submission 10, pp. 1-2.

4 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 3.

5 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 1.

6 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 2.

11

2.10 Professor Anne Twomey also voiced concern that there was ‘no significant of problem of voting fraud in Australia’. Professor Twomey said that Australia was:

… different from most other countries, as it has a system of compulsory enrolment and compulsory voting. This means that any cases of multiple voting or impersonation of other voters are easily detectable and relatively rare. It is my understanding that nearly all cases of apparent multiple voting are resolved as errors in marking off the electoral roll7

2.11 Because of this, Professor Twomey questioned whether there was any current need for the bill, and that requiring identification would ‘necessarily result in some people not exercising their right to vote at elections’. She continued that the bill’s measures ‘are unlikely to achieve anything of positive value but may well prevent people from legitimately exercising their right to vote’.8

2.12 Similar views were put forward by Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, who suggested that the bill ‘offers an ineffective response to an overstated problem’ of voter fraud. Dr Baer Arnold observed that ‘[h]ighly politicised claims of systemic fraud through impersonation, multiple voting, ballot box tampering have received widespread publicity in the United States despite evidence and have been echoed in Australia’. However, Dr Baer noted:

There is however no hard evidence regarding large-scale multiple voting (as distinct from very small-scale errors in mark-offs by officials).

There is no hard evidence of systemic impersonation.

The expression of misplaced anxieties in ‘the main stream media’ or voicing of conspiracy theories among the echo chamber that is social media are not the basis for law reform. Claims regarding a supposed lack of integrity in voting and proposals for mechanisms to solve the problems should be considered by the Committee on the basis of fact rather than assertion.9 [emphasis in original]

2.13 Dr Baer Arnold called for the bill to be rejected, on the basis that there was no ‘authoritative evidence regarding the pervasiveness and severity of supposed impersonation in voting’, and therefore there was ‘no compelling reason to introduce a flawed new identity requirement’.10

2.14 Dr Kevin Bonham offered his support for these views and suggested that the bill had a ‘potential for a politically skewed impact on turnout and … it will not be effective against a voter who is determined to cast multiple votes’. Dr Bonham also suggested that the AEC has a ‘stated position of intent against

7 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, p. 2.

8 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, pp. 2, 5.

9 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 1.

10 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 3.

12

seat outcomes if it is shown that multiple voting could have resulted in an incorrect winner’.11

Auditing 2.15 A number of views were put forward regarding the form and efficacy of potential auditing of election ballots.

2.16 The ANAO, which under the bill would have expanded responsibilities in auditing election outcomes, raised a number of concerns about how the provisions of the bill would work in practice. The ANAO made the following points:

 the ANAO is mandated to report to the Parliament; it would therefore be ‘unusual and out of step’ for the Auditor-General to report its findings about authorised technology at federal elections directly to the Electoral Commissioner and not the Parliament;  it foresees challenges in testing whether the use of authorised technology

produces the same result as would be obtained without the use of the authorised technology;  both the timing and specificity of the audits provided for by the bill would require a significant amount of ANAO resources and would therefore

impact on its audit program; and  the proposed audit function would more appropriately be performed as an internal audit by the AEC, ‘in support of the AEC’s mandate’.12

2.17 Further, the AHRC noted that it was criminal offence to vote more than once in the same election and argued that this provides a ‘strong, and effective, disincentive against multiple voting’. The AHRC also noted that the AEC already has measures in place to ‘prevent and detect multiple voting’, including the use of electronic certified lists during elections.13

2.18 Associate Professor Teague called for a redesign of the Australian Senate process for scanning and counting ballots, to allow for meaningful election scrutiny from candidate-appointed scrutineers—particularly in relation to the transformation of paper ballots into digitised preferences which ‘cannot be checked without access to the ballot papers themselves’. Associate Professor Teague suggested that this was ‘why a post-election audit of randomly selected paper ballots, in the presence of scrutineers, is necessary’.14

11 Dr Kevin Bonham, Submission 9, p. 1.

12 Australian National Audit Office, Submission 10, p. 2.

13 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, pp. 2-3.

14 Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 2.

13

2.19 Associate Professor Teague noted that the AEC already ‘engaged trusted third parties to examine and test the system’, and that while this had benefits it should not be a substitute for:

… candidate-appointed scrutineering. It is exceedingly difficult to elicit meaningful information about any of these audits…. While it may help to detect and correct some errors and vulnerabilities, no software audit guarantees that the software is perfect, nor that a malicious party has not modified it between the audit and the election.

2.20 Associate Professor Teague called for independent observers to ‘double check the count’. The aim of this post-election audit would be to perform this double-checking in the presence of scrutineers, who can ‘verify the results and assess the rate of error’.

2.21 Associate Professor Teague called for the bill to be amended to clarify this process and noted that the bill is ambiguous as to whether it requires an audit of the system, or a post-election audit of paper ballots—an important distinction as ‘only the latter gives genuine evidence of an accurate election result’.15

2.22 Associate Professor Teague made the following recommendation regarding the bill:

For post-election audits of the paper Senate ballots, adopt wording … explicitly specifying that the AEC must publish the digitized preferences in advance, that a random selection of paper ballots must be chosen, that scrutineers must be allowed to observe their comparison with the digitized preferences, and that this must occur before the expiry of the deadline for petitioning to correct problems.16

2.23 Dr Bonham offered his support for the views of Associate Professor Teague, and was in favour of auditing to ‘verify what the actual error rate in the Senate counting process is’. Dr Bonham suggested that:

In addition to general random sampling of ballot papers to check for errors, I suggest that there be an audit of error rates in specific types of ballot papers that are more susceptible to data entry errors.17

Voter identification 2.24 Submitters who provided comments on the voter identification provisions of the bill voiced concerns with both the reasoning behind the provisions, and the potential impact voter identification could have on electors seeking to cast

their vote.

15 Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 3.

16 Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 4.

17 Dr Kevin Bonham, Submission 9, p. 2.

14

2.25 The AHRC raised concerns with the bill’s proposal to address ‘illegal or multiple voting’, and recommended that Schedule 2 of the bill not be passed. The AHRC said that it was concerned that the bill:

… has been introduced without proper regard to the existing safeguards against multiple voting and their effectiveness, and without proper consideration of the adverse impacts that the Bill is likely to have on participation in elections. In the absence of this kind of analysis, the Bill risks disenfranchising a range of groups of people who may have difficulty in complying with its requirements. As a result, the measures proposed in Schedule 2 of this Bill do not appear to be necessary and proportionate to achieve the aim being sought and could unreasonably limit, and unduly impinge on, a person’s right to vote.18

2.26 The AHRC expressed its concern that the bill does not consider other ‘less restrictive alternatives which could be considered to address the relatively small issue of multiple voting’, without requiring mandatory voter identification for all electors.19

2.27 Professor Orr was of the view that voter identification in Australia was ‘a solution in search of a problem’, and that requiring voting identification ‘cannot sensibly address any issues we have with sporadic instances of multiple voting’. Further, he contended that ‘increasing hurdles to voting is an odd thing to do in a compulsory voting system’.20

2.28 Associate Professor Teague expressed concern that the clauses of the bill relating to voter identification could ‘actually make elections less secure, by raising the risk that eligible people are wrongly turned away’. She continued that:

Excluding eligible voters is as much of a security failure as including ineligible ones, with profound implications for the foundation of our democracy.21

2.29 Similarly, Dr Baer Arnold observed that the bill does not address ‘legitimate concerns expressed over the past two decades regarding exclusion [from the voting process] of people escaping domestic violence, wary about stalking, with disabilities, or otherwise marginalised’.22

2.30 Professor Anne Twomey pointed to the historical use of voter identification in other countries to ‘prevent or deter certain groups in society from voting, with the consequential effect that legislative bodies are elected by a less representative sector of the people’. Even with provisions to better support

18 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 1.

19 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 3.

20 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 1.

21 Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 5.

22 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 3.

15

disadvantaged and remote Indigenous electors in providing proof of identification, Professor Twomey noted that:

… the additional procedural burden, the effort required, the confusion that it can create and the message that it sends of being ‘suspect’ or unwanted, may be enough to suppress the vote.23

Integrity of documents 2.31 In considering the documents which the bill proposes as confirming proof of identity, Associate Professor Teague observed that some of the included documents could be easily falsified, and therefore the bill did not strike ‘the

right balance between fraud prevention and accidental exclusion’. Associate Professor Teague also made the important point that:

… for those with limited technical skills, reduced access to technology, or insecure housing, there might be no easy way to acquire any of the accepted documents, even when the person is an eligible voter.24

2.32 Similarly, Dr Baer Arnold observed that legislation currently does not require AEC officials to have expertise in ‘document forensics’, and that was ‘salient for the bill’s identity document requirements given that forgery of several of the identity documents is trivial’. Further, Dr Baer Arnold made the point that the bill and its explanatory material was:

… silent as to whether the identity documents must be in hardcopy or digital formats. That is salient given that many people have chosen to rely on digital rather than postal communication, accordingly receiving rates, utility, phone, bank and other accounts by email or the web through mobile phones and other digital devices. Their proof of identity under the Bill will be on their phone, in itself a readily subverted proof.25

2.33 The AHRC echoed these views, questioning the lack of clarity in the bill about whether electronic documents would be accepted, and whether voting officers would need to determine if a document was genuine.26

2.34 Issues with the form of the proof of identity as listed in the bill were also raised by Professor Twomey, who noted that the definition of ‘proof of identity’ was ‘peculiar’, because:

… some of the forms of identity are directed at a person’s address (eg utility bills) whereas others are addressed at a person’s visual appearance (eg photo ID cards, licences, passports). This raises the question of whether these measures are directed only at determining if a person is not who they claim to be (in which case a photo ID is relevant) or are directed

23 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, pp. 1-2.

24 Associate Professor Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 5.

25 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 2.

26 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 5.

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at electoral fraud involving people claiming to vote in an electorate where they do not live (in which case ID involving an address is relevant).27

2.35 Professor Twomey also drew attention to the fact the bill’s identification requirements do not extend to postal voting, ‘leaving this potential fraud pathway unaffected’.28

Administrative issues 2.36 Professor Orr noted a number of administrative issues in implementing the bill if it was enacted, including:

 a resourcing burden on the AEC, including an unknown financial cost;  a slowing down of in-person polling (which would be particularly unwanted in the current circumstances with COVID-19);  inconsistency in the application and administration of accepting proof of

identity documents; and  the discouragement of people from voting who may think they do not have appropriate identification documents.29

2.37 Professor Twomey made similar points in suggesting that a practical effect of the bill would be significant delays at polling places and potentially increased election costs, ‘as each person produces identification and it is assessed by the voting officer’. Professor Twomey suggested that the identification provision could impose:

… increased and unnecessary pressure on poll clerks to make significant judgement calls about whether a person can make an ordinary vote. It is not hard to imagine that in some cases persons who are rejected for failing to produce ID might become angry or even violent. 30

2.38 Anomalies and inconsistencies relating to proof of identity requirements in the bill were also raised by Professor Twomey, who provided several examples of when providing proof of identity would be problematic:

They include the person who loses their wallet on, or shortly before, polling day, the person who has had their ID papers destroyed in a bushfire or flood, the person who is travelling and does not have the requisite documents, the student living at home who does not pay utility bills or have a driver’s licence, the people who simply forget to bring ID with them to the polling booth and are turned away, as well as homeless people who do not have, or cannot keep with them, relevant documentation and do not have the connections or initiative to obtain a community identification document.31

27 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, pp. 2-3.

28 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, p. 3.

29 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 3.

30 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, p. 4.

31 Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6, p. 3.

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Committee views 2.39 The committee believes the transparency and integrity of the Australian electoral system is of vital importance, and acknowledges the existing administrative, auditing and compliance frameworks available to the AEC

from the ANAO and JSCEM.

2.40 The principle and stated aims of this Bill are to provide additional integrity and transparency for Australian electoral events through both the adoption of both voter identification, and additional assurance processes for Senate elections conducted utilising a computerised count. The committee notes that this reflects the general principles of the recommendations of JSCEM in their reports into the 2016 and 2019 elections. JSCEM, as the key parliamentary committee with oversight of electoral laws, has previously considered these issues in detail and recommended the adoption of such measures in-principle. However, the committee has concerns regarding this bill with respect to the implementation of these aims.

2.41 While the committee acknowledges that appropriate auditing processes could provide additional assurances to Australians regarding the transparency and integrity of electoral events, it is not clear that the mechanisms proposed in this bill are the most appropriate way to achieve that aim. This conclusion is informed by submissions from the ANAO and other submitters.

2.42 As noted in their submission, the ANAO has a responsibility to report its findings directly to the Parliament. A provision which would require the ANAO to report directly to the AEC in relation to audits of ‘authorised technology’ would be an unusual step for the organisation to undertake.

2.43 As mentioned by the AHRC, there are existing scrutiny measures in place which ensure the integrity of federal elections, including the detection by the AEC of the rare occurrence of multiple voting, such as Electronic Certified Lists (ECLs) and the recently passed provisions relating to ‘designated electors’. These existing measures already act to complement the stated aims of this bill’s proposed voter identification measures.

2.44 While the committee acknowledges that the bill is seeking to strengthen the integrity of elections, and notes the JCSEM’s support for voter identification laws in principle, there remain a number of administrative issues which are raised by the bill but not properly addressed by its provisions or explanatory material.

2.45 As noted in submissions to the committee, it would appear that the requirement to produce identification at voting places does not clearly establish whether digital forms of identification, such as the ‘New South Wales Digital Driver’s Licence’ would be supported under the proposed model.

2.46 Likewise, the bill is unclear as to how ‘community health and welfare workers’ are to be identified, and how such issuers are to discern whether individuals

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meet the criteria to be issued a ‘community identity document’ for the purposes of voting.

2.47 In light of these concerns raised about the bill, the committee recommends that the bill is not passed.

Recommendation 1

2.48 The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 not be passed.

Senator Claire Chandler Chair

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Additional Comments - Australian Labor Party

1.1 Labor members of the committee wish to make clear that Labor has consistently opposed any form of voter identification laws. While the bill purports to act on the recommendation of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM), it should be noted that this recommendation was only supported by Government members. Labor members of JSCEM delivered dissenting reports for the inquiries into the elections of 2013, 2016 and 2019, voicing their opposition to voter ID. We reiterate those views.

1.2 As the majority of submitters to this inquiry have pointed out, there is no culture of voter fraud in Australia and without further evidence, there is no justification for voter identification laws. In fact, in evidence before this committee during Senate Estimates, the Electoral Commissioner described the number of multiple votes cast as ‘vanishingly small’.1 As the Australian Human Rights Commission noted in its submission to the inquiry, the number of multiple votes cast has never affected the outcome of an election.2 Most instances of multiple voting are of older or infirm people who have forgotten that they have already voted.

1.3 Voter ID laws result in the disenfranchisement of vulnerable electors, including Indigenous people, people escaping domestic violence and homeless people. These people should be supported to exercise their democratic right, not have barriers placed in their way. In addition, voter ID laws would substantially increase the administrative burden on the Australian Electoral Commission, which will lead to increased costs and delays at polling places.

1.4 It should also be noted that legislation has recently passed the Parliament to establish a designated elector register. Designated electors are those electors who the Electoral Commissioner has a reasonable suspicion of having voted more than once in an election. Designated electors will only be able to vote by declaration vote, ensuring that only one vote is counted. This, along with the increased use by the AEC of electronic certified lists, will address the very small number of instances of multiple voting.

1 Mr Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner, Estimates Hansard, 23 March 2021, p. 170.

2 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 3.

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1.5 Labor members of the committee wish to thank everyone who took the time to make a submission to the inquiry.

Senator Tim Ayres Deputy Chair

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Additional Comments - Australian Greens

1.1 The Australian Greens support efforts to strengthen the integrity of elections, but do not believe that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 (the Bill) in its current form achieves that objective.

Scrutiny of the ballot count 1.2 The Bill identifies an important issue regarding the transparency of the Senate ballot count—an issue that has consistently been raised in submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.

1.3 Australia has an electoral system to be proud of and there is no evidence of widespread inaccuracies in the current count. Notwithstanding these current strengths, greater transparency leads to greater public trust that electoral processes are robust and best practice. Improving transparency and scrutiny of the ballot count will help Australia to avoid recent international experiences where a lack of transparency and doubt has been weaponised to undermine confidence in election outcomes.1

1.4 However, the majority of submissions confirm that the solutions proposed by the Bill for additional software audits will not effectively address electoral transparency or improve public confidence in electoral outcomes.2

1.5 The review of the ACT 2020 election recommended a routine statistical audit at the conclusion of each election, undertaken by an independent reviewer in the presence of scrutineers, to bolster public faith in the electoral process.3 Associate Professor Teague’s submission on the Bill confirms that this is the preferred approach:

Unfortunately, there is no equivalent way to double-check the Senate scanning process, because that would require access to the paper ballots from which the digitized preferences are derived. The aim of a post-election audit is to do this double-checking in the presence of scrutineers,

so that scrutineers can verify the results and assess the rate of error.4

1.6 She notes the Bill does not require randomised ballot selection, publication of the audit report or finalisation of the audit before the time for challenging an election result lapses. The ANAO also noted the significant resourcing

1 See, for example, Wayne Reilly, Submission 7 and the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill.

2 See, for example, Dr Kevin Bonham, Submission 9, and Associate Professor Vanessa Teague,

Submission 2.

3 ACT Legislative Assembly, Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety, Inquiry into the

2020 ACT Election and the Electoral Act, August 2021, Recommendation 6, p. 15.

4 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 3.

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challenges it would face in taking on the additional role proposed by the Bill.5 These deficiencies in the Bill could actually undermine public confidence in the audit process.

1.7 Mr Rajeev Gore also questioned the need for third party audits of complex vote-counting software, recommending instead that software vendors be required to publish verifiable proof of the accuracy of its scanning solutions.6 This could be included in criteria for a successful tender for a government contract to provide electoral software.

1.8 The Australian Greens recently proposed amendments to introduce a robust post-election audit of paper Senate ballots. We will continue to advocate for those changes.

Voter ID 1.9 The government and other conservative parties routinely raise the spectre of voter fraud to undermine electoral outcomes, but the reality is that there is no evidence to suggest that voter fraud is a significant issue in Australia.7 As

Professor Graeme Orr has noted, ‘Voter ID in Australia is a solution in search of a problem’.8

1.10 Associate Professor Teague notes that the provisions of the Bill requiring voter identification ‘may do considerable harm by wrongly excluding eligible voters’.9

1.11 The Australian Human Rights Commission also raised concern that the Bill:

… has been introduced without proper regard to the existing safeguards against multiple voting and their effectiveness, and without proper consideration of the adverse impacts that the Bill is likely to have on participation in elections.10

1.12 The Australian Greens have long opposed voter identification requirements given the serious risk that it would disenfranchise many citizens, including First Nations voters, homeless or itinerant voters, and voters escaping domestic violence.11 This remains our view.

5 Australian National Audit Office, Submission 10, p. 2.

6 Mr Rajeev Gore, Submission 12.

7 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 1.

8 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 2.

9 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 1. See also, Professor Anne Twomey, Submission 6.

10 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8, p. 1.

11 See Australian Greens’ dissenting comments to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters

inquiries into the conduct of 2016 and 2019 elections.

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1.13 The recent changes made by the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Offences and Preventing Multiple Voting) Act 2021 allow the AEC to identify voters suspected of multiple voting and require their future ballots to be cast by declaration. This reform is sufficient to address any perceived risk of multiple voting, and the further changes proposed by the Bill are unwarranted.

Further reforms 1.14 There are many things that should be done to improve the integrity of election campaigns - capping donations and election spending, stronger rules to prevent party campaigning being disguised as government advertising and

paid for by the taxpayer, preventing pork barrelling of government grants, requiring truth in political advertising, and establishing a strong national integrity commission.

1.15 The Australian Greens will continue to campaign for all these reforms to ensure Australians can have confidence that future elections are conducted with integrity.

Senator Larissa Waters Greens Senator for Queensland

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Dissenting Report - Senator Malcolm Roberts

Introduction 1.1 I thank the Committee for their work and thank the people who have taken the time to make a submission.

1.2 I note that the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) did not make a submission. This has not been a topic they wish to speak about. The Australian public does.

1.3 In reading all of the submissions it is clear that the Australian National Audit Office believes that the audit provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 go too far and Australian academics believe it does not go far enough.

1.4 The Committee has decided that a bill which implements recommendation 21 of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) report into the 2019 federal election, using the same wording as the recommendation, should not be implemented.

1.5 This tells me that my bill is not being considered as a bill about election integrity, in which case it is well weighted, but rather a bill about political ideology.

1.6 Electoral integrity is the foundation upon which support for our government is based.

1.7 Questions as to the validity of the election outcome must necessarily then go to questions as to the validity of the Government.

1.8 Doubt about an election outcome destroys trust in government. These are matters of national significance and must be decided without resorting to political and bureaucratic tribalism.

1.9 It is my duty to the people of Queensland and Australia to ensure honest governance, and that includes honest elections.

1.10 After 9 months of questions to the Australian Electoral Commission and to the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minster, it became obvious that simple questions I had regarding the routine auditing and integrity of federal elections were not going to be answered.

1.11 My bill sought to place the issue of election integrity to the forefront in this upcoming election cycle.

1.12 I requested this inquiry into the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 to create a dialogue around issues of auditing and voter integrity.

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1.13 I welcome the submissions that were made and note there were several suggestions to improve the drafting of the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021.

Submissions

Professor Graeme Orr 1.14 Professor Graeme Orr disagreed with the Voter ID provisions but did make the following suggestions:

To require the AEC to advise all electors who vote by provisional or declaration ballot, whether their ballot was admitted to the count. Presently, this is not a routine requirement. Without it, electors who are unable to place their ballot into a ballot box - because they cannot not vote in person, or because of an issue necessitating a ‘provisional’ ballot - are left in a ‘black box’ state. This is undesirable in a modern electoral system; especially given contemporary technologies (email or SMS).1

1.15 And:

To make clear that polling officials must offer a provisional ballot to all voters who cannot meet the ID requirements.2

1.16 These are both valid improvements to my bill and will be added.

Dr Vanessa Teague 1.17 Dr Teague is one of Australia’s leading cryptologists and has been involved directly with auditing of elections at a federal and NSW state level. My office sought out Dr Teague in January for her input to this bill and contact has been

maintained through the year.

1.18 Dr Teague opened with the following observation:

… (this bill) aims to improve the integrity of Australian elections in two ways:

(1) securing voter eligibility, and (2) securing the electronic processing of votes.

While I support both aims, I do not believe the Bill meets its goals.

The first part of the bill concerns the auditing of electronic electoral processes. This is well-intentioned, but needs to be substantially amended to provide scrutineers with evidence of the accuracy of the election outcome. The clauses on voter identification may do considerable harm by wrongly excluding eligible voters.3

1 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 3.

2 Professor Graeme Orr, Submission 1, p. 4.

3 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 1.

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1.19 Let me address specific concerns raised by Dr Teague:

The Bill currently has important drafting problems … The Bill is ambiguous about whether it requires only a system audit, or a post-election audit of the paper ballots. Only the latter gives genuine evidence of an accurate election result.4

1.20 The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 sets the test of election integrity as follows:

… that the use of authorised technology produces the same result as would be obtained without the use of authorised technology.5

1.21 It would be impossible to resolve that test without checking the electronic record of the vote back to the printed record, and vice versa. To suggest this and many other provisions are specifically required in this bill is an unwarranted interference in the activities of the Auditor General.

It allows the ANAO audit report to be delivered privately to the Electoral Commissioner but not published—this does nothing for public trust.6

1.22 It would be entirely appropriate to allow the AEC access to the report and an opportunity for comment prior to public release. Inclusion of a provision to ensure the report is made public should have been included in the bill and will be included in an amendment.

It allows the audit, and the corresponding report, to be delayed until 60 days after the return of the writs. This means that serious errors might be identified only after it is too late to petition to correct them.7

1.23 The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 includes a pre-audit of the election to ensure ‘serious errors’ are prevented from occurring in the first place. The post-audit starts on the first day of pre-polling and extends throughout the election and counting period, which currently takes 30 days. Then the Auditor-General will have 30 days to finalise the report. If any ‘serious errors’ occurred they would be revealed in real time and corrected as the count progressed.

1.24 Having mind to the proximity of the next election, the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 was drafted as a simple fix to direct the Auditor General to audit the next election, and to allow the Auditor General to exercise their own judgement as to the most effective way to achieve that.

4 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 3.

5 Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021, Schedule 1, Item 1,

proposed subparagraph 286AB(3)(a).

6 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 3.

7 A/Prof Vanessa Teague, Submission 2, p. 4.

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1.25 Likewise, the section on Voter ID allows the AEC to make rules to govern the operation of Voter ID, as is the normal practice, and I would expect those would reflect Dr Teague’s concerns. Note that those regulations would be a disallowable instrument.

1.26 Recommendation 5 of the JSCEM Report into the 2019 election called for a rewrite of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to ‘make it fit for purpose’.

1.27 Dr Teague’s opus novum is best directed to that reform process when it starts, and I welcome Dr Teague to be actively consulted in the review process.

Dr Bruce Baer Arnold 1.28 Dr Arnold made this statement:

There is however no hard evidence regarding large-scale multiple voting (as distinct from very small-scale errors in mark-offs by officials). There is no hard evidence of systemic impersonation.8

1.29 The Australian Electoral Commission employs exception auditing. Put simply if nothing stands out as abnormal then nothing is found to be abnormal. To then use the absence of the detection of abnormal behaviour by the AEC as proof that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 is not needed is a very poor argument.

1.30 I would inform Dr Bruce Baer Arnold of the standard procedure for regulations to be issued by the AEC to cover the operation of these new provisions. Those regulations are where matters that may change from election to election are contained, not in legislation.

1.31 Document forgery is of course an issue, but not one which should preclude us from trying to ensure every vote counted was legally cast.

Australian Human Rights Commission 1.32 The Australian Human Rights Commission9 makes the same logical fallacy regarding the absence of proof of voter fraud as other submissions. The use of exception auditing by the AEC means any voter fraud that can be done

expertly will not be detected. Ergo the absence of proof of voter fraud does not prove fraud did not occur, it only proves fraud was not detected. Hence the need for an independent, external audit.

8 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, Submission 5, p. 1. Emphasis in original.

9 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 8.

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Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) 1.33 In its submission, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) made this admission:

In accordance with the Auditor-General’s mandate under the Auditor-General Act 1997, the Auditor-General is empowered to conduct a review or examination of a particular aspect of the operations of the AEC at any time.10

1.34 My next comment references this ANAO report: Third Follow-up Audit into the Australian Electoral Commission’s Preparation for and Conduct of Federal Elections. ANAO audited the AEC and released their findings in 2015. That report found:

The actions taken by the AEC prior to the 2013 election in response to previously agreed ANAO recommendations have not adequately and effectively addressed the matters that led to recommendations being made.11

1.35 ANAO conducted the last known audit of the AEC in 2015, or at least the last known audit for which any public proof exists.

1.36 They concluded that their previous recommendations to ensure voting integrity had not been adequately implemented. ANAO have had the power to go back and look at any time in the last 6 years to ensure that those recommendations were subsequently implemented and they have not done so.

1.37 No other audit or outside scrutiny has occurred that go to software and internal processes (as opposed to the Australian Signals Directorate uplift program on network and device security).

1.38 The Australian people still do not know if the AEC has fixed the problems ANAO found in 2015 and that is just not good enough. It is not good enough that ANAO have not gone back to find out themselves.

10 Australian National Audit Office, Submission 10, p. 2.

11 Australian National Audit Office, ANAO Report No. 6 2015-16: Third Follow-up Audit into the

Australian Electoral Commission’s Preparation for and Conduct of Federal Elections, November 2015, p. 7.

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Recommendations

Recommendation 1

1.39 The Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Integrity of Elections) Bill 2021 be passed with amendments.

Recommendation 2

1.40 The Prime Minister consider an instruction to the Auditor General to initiate a follow-up audit to the three audits conducted by the Australian National Audit Office to determine if Australian Electoral Commission processes are now fit for purpose. This report should be concluded by February 28th 2022.

Senator Malcolm Roberts PHON Senator for Queensland

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Appendix 1 Submissions

1 Professor Graeme Orr 2 A/Prof Vanessa Teague 3 Mr Axel Brendel 4 Mr Peter Kirby 5 Dr Bruce Baer Arnold 6 Professor Anne Twomey 7 Mr Wayne Reilly 8 Australian Human Rights Commission 9 Dr Kevin Bonham 10 Australian National Audit Office 11 Council for the National Interest 12 Mr Rajeev Gore