As part of the Australian Federal Election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) hosted an election visitor program in Canberra from Thursday 30 June to Monday 4 July 2016. Participants included 42 delegates from electoral management bodies, electoral organisations and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Those in attendance included members of the PIANZEA network from Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The program provided a forum for discussion about Australia’s electoral environment and information sharing around good governance and best-practice electoral processes.
Delegates engaged in sessions with senior AEC officials around key Australian electoral processes. An expert panel of senior AEC officials made themselves available to the delegates to discuss aspects of the Australian electoral process. Discussion centred on the recent reform measures the AEC had undergone, with keen interest in the scanning of Senate ballot papers.
On day two, the delegates participated in an education experience at the National Electoral Education Centre that included a multi-media presentation that explores the history of Australian democracy, hands-on activities which helped the delegates to understand enrolment, voting and representation, and voting in a simulated election and then counting votes to achieve a result.
On Election Day the delegates witnessed polling in urban and rural polling places in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. Once polls closed the delegates witnessed the initial count of the House of Representatives ballots and the involvement of candidate scrutineers in the process.
Participant feedback and participation throughout the program were both positive. Comments noted that it provided delegates with ‘ideas that if implemented will enhance our own electoral system’
Closing remarks of the program were by the Deputy Electoral Commissioner, Kathryn Toohey.
Changes to Senate Voting: http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/senate_count.htm
Australian Electoral Commission: www.aec.gov.au
Federal Election results: http://vtr.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-20499.htm
National Electoral Education Centre: http://education.aec.gov.au/visit-us/