Australia is officially United States Lite this election year because the Australian Electoral Commission and Facebook have both already warned of circulating election misinformation and false claims about election fraud.
The AEC said Facebook had taken down several posts and pages that it said spread election misinformation about ballots being altered or thrown out.
Unsurprisingly the election misinformation came from One Nation and United Australia Party candidates who urged people to use pens instead of pencils and to take photos of their ballot papers as proof of … something? Not sure what one anonymous photo of a ballot paper would do but sure.
“Use a pen when you vote. This will ensure that your vote is valid and cannot be changed,” a One Nation endorsed candidate Liz Suduk wrote on April 6.
United Australia candidate Jason Olbourne posted on 9 April: “We sign a stat dec and give it to the polling booth operators so we can contest the election results if we deem them to be untrustworthy”.
Again, not sure what this would prove out of millions and millions of votes that are all anonymous??
Other UAP members have also posted about how voter security is “more important than ever” which all sounds too damn familiar.
The AEC said these claims we “imported” from the US after Donald Trump went on and on and on about voter fraud after his 2020 presidential election loss.
“While many of the posts simply encourage people to ‘bring a pen’ and ‘fill in a stat dec’, the inference often being made is that the counting process is somehow subject to manipulation. This is simply not the case,” an AEC spokesman told Guardian Australia.
“Such communication is dangerous and little different to what has been seen overseas recently.”
He also assured voters that ballot security is literally what they do and that there’s no way papers could be thrown out or tampered with.
“Ballot paper security, and electoral integrity more broadly, is a central component to our operations. Ballot papers are secured and tracked from the moment a voter puts them into a ballot box,” he said.
Honestly, we should’ve seen this shit coming.
On top of all this, the AEC’s Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers also warned in a statement ahead of the enrolment deadline that minor political parties were posting election misinformation and misleading postal vote application forms. He urged voters to stick to the official commission forms.
“It’s legal but it is potentially misleading and we’re concerned,” he said in response to complaints.
“There is a multitude of issues we’re seeing and it’s the number one complaint we’re receiving from Australians with thousands of pieces of correspondence received across social media and more traditional complaint channels in just days.
“We’ve also seen the wrong forms distributed in one division, our colour purple used in a potentially misleading way in another and voters being directed to generically named websites en masse with the potential to mislead.”
Rogers said people needed to *please* use official ballot papers to vote because anything else obviously won’t be counted.
“Our message couldn’t be clearer — vote in person if you can, apply for a postal vote through us if you need one,” he said.
If you can’t get to the polls, your guide to alternative ways to vote is here.