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Close watch on Senate re-run
Watching closely: The WA Senate re-run will be heavily monitored. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

The likely repeat WA Senate election next year will be one of the most high-tech and high- security exercises in democracy in the Western world.

Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn said the Australian Electoral Commission would implement all 32 of Mick Keelty's recommendations after the bungled WA count that resulted in 1370 ballot papers going missing. "I've accepted, the commission's accepted, all of the recommendations," Mr Killesteyn told ABC radio yesterday.

"Bear in mind, this will take us to the forefront of control. No other electoral commission, certainly in Australia or indeed many parts of the Western world, has these sorts of controls over ballot papers."

Mr Keelty, a former Australian Federal Police commissioner, recommended the AEC introduce "cradle to grave" handling of ballot papers to keep them sterile at all times by ensuring secure warehousing with CCTV, alarms and guards whose political neutrality had been checked.

Ballot papers are likely to be routinely scanned electronically and the AEC will use tamper- evident materials during transfer and storage.

Mr Keelty's report into the WA Senate election offered a scathing assessment of the AEC's lax procedures and the WA division's "culture of complacency", noting that the loss of about $30 worth of ballot papers might have condemned taxpayers to a $13 million repeat election.

Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson said last week that Mr Killesteyn and the commission must accept full responsibility for the debacle.

But Mr Killesteyn parried questions about whether he would resign. "What's on my mind is to get on with the job with implementing Mr Keelty's recommendations and restoring the confidence the community has in the AEC," he said.

The AEC has petitioned the High Court to order a fresh election for the Senate.

Senator Ronaldson yesterday wrote to the chairman of the joint standing committee of electoral matters to consider the circumstances surrounding the lost WA Senate votes, as well as the feasibility of electronic voting.

The High Court will have a directions hearing regarding the AEC's petition on Thursday.