Security blast for poll chiefs

The Australian Electoral Commission failed to improve how it handled ballot papers after a box of votes fell off the back of a truck on the Mitchell Freeway during the 2010 election, the Auditor-General has found.

The Australian National Audit Office yesterday released the results of the audit into the electoral commission's storage and transportation of ballot papers at last year's poll, criticising the elections' overseer for poor security.

The audit was commissioned after the WA Senate election debacle when 1370 ballot papers went missing during a recount and changed the result, forcing the State's voters back to the polls last month.

Despite the audit office warning the commission it had to bolster security in an audit released in the run-up to the 2010 election, it found officials acted too slowly, "resulting in inadequate action being taken".

Auditors said the commission should have been alerted to the need to improve security when a Perth Transit Authority employee had to collect ballot papers from the tracks of the Joondalup rail line after the 2010 election.

The box had "dropped off" the back of an uncovered ute as the votes were being taken to a warehouse for storage.

One finding about the conduct of last year's election was that most contracts with transport firms to move ballot papers did not promote secure handling and movement of completed votes.

The West Australian

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