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AJP Victoria Submission: "Inquiry into '22 State Election"

The AJP Victoria Submission to the "Inquiry into the Conduct of the 2022 Victorian State Election" is now available here is now available here. 

In April 2023, the Victorian Parliament’s influential Electoral Matters Committee opened to public submissions into a review of the 2022 Victorian Election. Public submissions are critical to both the Parliament’s understanding of the 2022 election, and the development of recommendations for reform. 

Written submissions to the Committee could discuss any matter related to the 2022 Victorian election, including:

  • voters’ experience enrolling and casting their votes
  • the behaviour of parties, candidates and campaigners during the election period
  • the way the Victorian Electoral Commission managed the election
  • candidates’ and parties’ experience standing for election
  • possible improvements to Victoria’s electoral system, including changes to the Upper House voting system
  • any other matters related to the conduct of the election

The Committee will table a report in Parliament at the end of the inquiry. The report is due by 1 May 2024.

The Animal Justice Party contributed an 18-page submission to this consultation and made 29 recommendations.

Our Submission Conclusion 

The Victorian 2022 State Election was an outstanding success for our Party in many ways. For the first time ever, we had a candidate contest every seat, in the Upper and Lower House, greatly raising our profile. While this was an achievement for us to celebrate, it came with significant obstacles. These obstacles included regional and rural logistics issues, the difficulty of recruiting volunteers in sufficient numbers and in competition with larger parties, and deadlines to submit relevant documents and go to print in incredibly tight timeframes.

We acknowledge the enormous logistic difficulties of running a state election and commend the Victorian Electoral Commission for their efforts. We note, as discussed in the body of our submission, the issues relating to public health, inclusive measures to enable full participation by the voting public in our democratic processes and the safety concerns of all in relation to poor behaviour, intimidating tactics by some, the rise of right wing parties and the need for improved compliance by all participants.

The Animal Justice Party concludes that electoral reform should be undertaken by the Victorian Government as a result of this Inquiry. For the Legislative Council, like the Federal Senate, the AJP supports preferential, proportional representation by single transferable vote (STV). The AJP also supports legislation to stamp out misleading and deceptive political advertising, as it interferes with voters’ ability to make informed decisions.

Our Submission Recommendations
  1. Announce the arrangements for Covid-positive voters at the start of the voting period, so voters can consider all available options and plan ahead.
  2. Consider expanding these arrangements for those who test positive for influenza and/or RSV to maintain public health and safety. 
  3. Hire polling venues with due consideration given to facilities such as car parking availability, disabled access and some shade and shelter.
  4. Consider the needs of all voters when designing the voting process; ensure that the needs of our diverse population are taken into account.
  5. Consider a quota on campaign members for each party or candidate for each booth during the early voting period, at a maximum of 3 or 4 people.
  6. Create and distribute a code of conduct (COC), or contract or system possibly using QR codes, for all candidates, volunteers or staff who are to be present at polling booths and ensure that it details the consequences of non-compliance. 
  7. Ensure VEC staff enforce the COC across all polling booths fairly and equitably.
  8. Consider increasing staffing levels at polling booths to allow for a dedicated VEC staff member to remain outside at all times to monitor party campaigner behaviour.
  9. Consider the need for security at high-risk booths.
  10. Consider how to ensure campaign volunteers demonstrate an understanding of their role and their responsibilities at polling booths. Consider pre-election training or signed ‘COC contracts’.
  11. Ensure training for VEC officials focuses on the common areas of contention and query.
  12. Ensure training for VEC officials covers ‘real life’ scenarios so that all staff can have a uniform understanding of how to apply the rules to common situations and so that rules are upheld equally across all regions.
  13. Consider mandating regular compliance checks by VEC officials of all election materials and volunteer behaviour. For example at two-hour intervals, throughout each day.
  14. Ensure a copy of legislation pertaining to behaviour at polling booths is readily available and easily accessible to consult when queries arise.
  15. Offer a pre-screening for HTVC review prior to the HTVC submission process.
  16. Consider changing the requirements for HTVC to remove registration and only require authorisation.
  17. Extend the HTVC submission period to at least two weeks.
  18. Begin the HTVC submission period earlier; ideally three to four weeks before election day.
  19. Review the timeframes for supplementary elections, and consider allocating longer timeframes in the future.
  20. Allow each party to designate two people to handle signage and authorisation queries.
  21. Release locations of polling booths at least two weeks earlier than currently, to facilitate planning.
  22. Allow digital signatures from candidates and Returning Officers on all election forms.
  23. Consider candidate and volunteer feedback closely when planning for all aspects of future elections.
  24. Remove the GVT system in future elections, replacing it with a similar system used for the Senate in Federal elections. 
  25. Remove the eight Upper House regions to better reflect proportional representation in Legislative Council results.
  26. Limit the overall donation amount that political parties can receive to $1 million to make it more equitable for minor parties.
  27. Do not allow political donations from a known entity which has the effect of disadvantaging the equal participation in democracy by other parties/independents.
  28. Prohibit political advertising which is false or misleading.
  29. Attempt to control the use of social media bots designed to manipulate voters.

You can download and read our full submission below.

In addition to making a submission, we appeared at inquiry hearings and responded to questions of the Committee. The Victorian Convenor Bron Currie, Victorian Advocacy Manager Natalie Kopas, AJP Party President Angela Pollard, AJP Vice President and Director of Elections Louise Pfeiffer, and AJP's National Psephology Manager Craig Kealy confirmed the AJP’s values and ethics in relation to state elections and took the opportunity to reiterate the need for electoral reform in Victoria. 

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