Teals' Vic vote cards allowed to be used

Three Victorian teal candidates will be able to use their preferred how-to-vote cards after a tribunal struck out the Victorian Electoral Commission's decision.

The commission rejected the cards of independent candidate for Kew Sophie Torney, Hawthorn hopeful Melissa Lowe and Mornington candidate Kate Lardner on Monday, stating they could mislead voters and lead to informal votes.

The cards show an image of a ballot paper with a number one listed next to the respective teal candidate but blank spaces next to other hopefuls.

It also states several times that a voter should number every other box in order of their choice.

Ms Torney, Ms Lowe and Ms Lardner on Thursday challenged the commission's decision in the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal.

Justice Michelle Quigley ruled the how-to-vote cards were not misleading and ordered them to be registered.

Ms Torney said the candidates were pleased the commission's "undemocratic and party-centric" decision was overturned.

"It's unfortunate that we had to invest campaign resources into this challenge ... but in the interest of fairness and the integrity of the electoral process, we had no choice," she said in a statement.

"We look forward to handing out our original how-to-vote cards at pre-poll and on election day without further interference from the VEC."

Electoral commissioner Warwick Gately says the VEC will withdraw the cease and desist notices it issued.

"Today's decision will help inform the VEC's future requirements in respect to how-to-vote cards," he said in a statement.

"In the fullness of time, the VEC will report to the parliament in relation to recommended legislative clarifications, particularly around the regulation of campaigning in a contemporary state election setting."

During the tribunal hearing, commission barrister Liam Brown argued the image of an incomplete ballot paper could lead to accidental informal votes.

"Naive and gullible" voters may follow only visual cues from the how-to-vote cards rather than read all of the written information, Mr Brown said.

If a voter only copied the image of the ballot then their vote would be invalid, the barrister said.

Mr Brown pointed Justice Quigley to a report on the 2018 Victorian election where 5.83 per cent of votes were informal.

Of those informal votes, about 25 per cent were the result of people only numbering one of the candidates on the ballot paper.

But Adam McBeth, the barrister representing the teal candidates, argued informal votes went down in the electorates where similar how-to-vote cards were used during the federal election.

Dr McBeth cited the election victory of Monique Ryan in the seat of Kooyong, the same area where Ms Torney and Ms Lowe are running at a state level.

The rate of informal voting went down to 2.89 per cent, which was below the state average of 4.7 per cent.

Dr McBeth said that was despite Dr Ryan using a how-to-vote card similar to those proposed by Ms Torney and Ms Lowe.

The barrister also noted the Victorian Electoral Act states a candidate can either list their order of preferences or include a statement about all candidates needing to be numbered.

Justice Quigley agreed the how-to-vote cards were not misleading, although it was possible that cards with only one candidate numbered could be deceiving.

"What is before me is not of that category," she said.