26 September 2023

VEC disappointed with pre-party workers

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The Victorian Electoral Commissioner has hit out at party workers and campaign volunteers’ poor behaviour at early voting centres across the State.

Commissioner Warwick Gately said he was extremely disappointed by instances of poor behaviour by some party workers and campaign volunteers at a handful of early voting centres.

His comments follow media reports of a Labor Party volunteer having their leg broken at a pre-polling station in Wodonga, near the NSW border.

“Party and other campaign workers play an important role at elections and have the right to represent the interests of their party or candidate,” Mr Gately said.

“Where I draw the line is when voters, election staff, other volunteers and nearby traders feel unsafe or intimidated when trying to vote, work or play their role in the election,” he said.

“Our people have been trained to ask for collaboration and a harmonious environment.

“If their requests for cooperation are not met and the safety of others is at risk, I will seek police intervention, restrict volunteer numbers or take other measures open to me,” Mr Gately said.

He said the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) had also issued ‘cease and desist’ notices to a small number of independent candidates and political parties on a variety of matters.

The Commissioner said the notices were formal requests to rectify matters that appeared to breach electoral laws.

“We provide extremely comprehensive resources for both parties and candidates that clearly lay out all aspects of electoral compliance,” he said.

“We brief every registered political party more than once, and independent candidates similarly attend an information session ahead of the opening of nominations.

“Where rules have not been followed we have pursued a constructive compliance approach,” the Commissioner said.

Mr Gately said the VEC provided advice and requested compliance first, then increased the level of enforcement if breaches of the Electoral Act continued to be ignored.

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