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ECQ mistake could see candidates challenge election result

AN ENROLMENT mistake by the Electoral Commission of Queensland could see Hervey Bay voters return to the ballot box if the election result is challenged.

About 100 voters living in Hazelmere Village at Eli Waters were told to vote for division six candidates despite maps showing they lived in division eight.

Village resident Bob Montgomery raised the alarm after receiving a visit from a candidate from another division.

"It wasn't until (division six candidate) David Dalgleish came around and I said 'what are you doing here; you're in the wrong area'," he said.

"I went and saw the returning officer; this has gone on for a week now and during that week some people have voted in pre-polling in the wrong division."

On March 10 Mr Montgomery and other residents of Hazelmere Village opened their mailbox to find an apologetic letter from the ECQ acknowledging residents were enrolled in the wrong division.

"Copies of the electoral roll already distributed to polling booth locations still contain the incorrect enrolment information and will not be able to be corrected," the letter reads.

Mr Montgomery said some of his neighbours had already voted in division six at pre-polling before the ECQ admitted the mistake.

It is not known how many residents have voted in the wrong division but the mistake has left many candidates in divisions six and eight weighing their legal options.

"If it's close I'll have to challenge," division eight candidate Denis Chapman declared.

Division six candidate Mr Dalgleish slammed the ECQ for the mistake.

"The electoral commission couldn't run a chook raffle."

Division eight candidate Les Muckan said it was "disgraceful to get it wrong" but would not say whether he would challenge any result.

"We've got to wait and see, until you hear what happens there," he said.

"I'd hate to see people go through that pain of voting again."

Under the 1992 Queensland Electoral candidates may dispute the result of the election in the Supreme Court.

Lawyer and division six candidate David Lewis said he would consider a challenge if it was a close poll.

"If there's ten or 15 votes in it then it could impact it; I'd have to give it some thought," he said.

Fellow candidate Geoff Redpath said he would not challenge the result.

NOT HAPPY: Bob Montgomery from Wisteria Drive at Eli Waters with ECQ letters saying he’s in Division 6, then another to say they got it wrong and he’s really in Division 8.
NOT HAPPY: Bob Montgomery from Wisteria Drive at Eli Waters with ECQ letters saying he’s in Division 6, then another to say they got it wrong and he’s really in Division 8. Alistair Brightman

A spokeswoman for the ECQ said the organisation was "aware of isolated inconsistencies between electoral boundaries and enrolment details".

"The ECQ depends upon third party providers for data to populate both the electoral roll and boundaries," she said.

"Recent changes to this data have resulted in isolated instances where the enrolment data is inconstant with the established electoral boundaries."

The ECQ could not say how many voters were affected or how the situation could be corrected.

Topics:  ecq, fraser council election 2016, mistake




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