26 September 2023

Electoral office ready to beat disinformations

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The NSW Electoral Commission has launched a new campaign to alert voters preparing for the State election on 25 March to be aware of disinformations likely to appear as the day becomes closer.

Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt admitted the Stop and Consider campaign would be needed, saying it is based on a campaign used by the Australian Electoral Commission for the 2022 Federal election.

“This campaign is intended to provide voters with tools to identify disinformation when they come across it and direct them to more reliable information sources,” Mr Schmidt said.

“With so much information available to voters it can be hard to know what is true and what isn’t,” he said.

“I encourage all voters to stop and consider the information they are seeing and hearing.”

Mr Schmidt said the campaign encouraged voters to think about three things when they encountered electoral communications – Reliable, Safe and Current.

He said this meant voters asking themselves if the information was from a reliable source, when was it published, and could it be a scam?

“False information about elections circulating in the community and online could undermine confidence in the integrity of democratic processes,” the Electoral Commissioner said.

“The campaign aims to maintain public confidence in, and understanding of, the electoral process and election outcome,” he said.

“Although the Commission’s role is not to regulate truth in political advertising, these principles can also be applied by voters to a broad range of information they encounter about the upcoming NSW State election.”

Mr Schmidt said the Electoral Commission had also launched a disinformation register which rebuts prominent false and misleading statements about electoral processes in NSW.

He said the register already contained examples of disinformation which had been identified.

“We do not comment on whether campaign claims made by political participants (or their supporters) are true or false,” Mr Schmidt said.

“As the independent administrator and regulator of elections in NSW, our focus is on the integrity of the electoral process itself.”

He said the Commission undertook ongoing monitoring of media and social media during election periods to identify disinformation and was working with online platforms to reduce the risk of harm that may arise from the spread of disinformation.

The Commission’s disinformation register can be accessed at this PS News link.

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