Wyndham council has called on the state government to introduce an optional preferential voting system for future council elections in a bid to curb informal votes and disincentives to voting.
The council will write a letter to Local Government Minister Marlene Kairouz requesting the changes in response to a Local Government Investigations and Compliance investigation into the 2016 Wyndham council election.
The inspectorate’s report, which was handed down last month, identified 10 candidates who were considered to be non-genuine – or dummy – candidates due to unusual preference arrangements, dubious residential entitlements, no active campaigning or non-attendance of information sessions or training.
Cr Josh Gillgan, who moved the motion, said the current system discouraged residents from voting, especially in council elections with high numbers of candidates.
Currently, voters have to number all candidates on the ballot paper in the order of their preference. Under the optional preferential voting model, voters can vote for one, some or all candidates.
Cr Gilligan said that in some wards, more than 16 per cent of votes were considered ineligible.
“Community confidence in elections is a key component of democracy,” he said.
“A system that discourages voters from participating by having to number every box – in the case of Chaffey ward, 35 [boxes], in Harrison it was 41 – correctly for their vote to be counted is a system that, in my view, needs to be reviewed.
“There is a legitimate argument that perhaps, if we had an optional preferential voting system, it may have changed the election outcome in relation to some wards.”
Councillor Mia Shaw said it was important a strong message was sent that what happened in 2016 would not happen in the 2020 election.