A St Albans pensioner who has been fined $78 for allegedly failing to vote in last year’s council election is taking the matter to court.
In February, Mr Paker was among 598,913 Victorians who received a letter from the Victorian Electoral Commission asking them to explain why they did not vote in last year’s council election.
But according to his daughter, Seval Paker, he did vote – and she’s sure of it because she helped him fill out the ballot paper before posting it at the Cairnlea post office. Her Turkish-born father speaks limited English.
Ms Paker, of Derrimut, said she posted her own and her husband’s ballot papers in a Derrimut post box in the morning before she drove to her father’s house to help him fill out his, which she posted in Cairnlea soon afterwards, a few days before the October 21 cut-off date.
To her surprise, they all received apparent failure to vote notices from the VEC asking them to explain why they failed to cast a vote. She promptly replied stating that they had in fact voted. Yet despite sending identical letters for herself, her husband and her 66-year-old father, she and her husband were pardoned, while her father was told his “excuse for failing to vote” was considered insufficient.
“The funny thing is we all got a failure to vote notice,” she said. “I wrote back the same thing for all of us, and my dad got a fine and we didn’t. Something is definitely not right.
“Money is not the issue – it’s the principle of the thing.”
Last week, Mr Paker notified the VEC he had elected to take his infringement to the Magistrates Court to have it determined at a formal hearing. He is yet to receive notification of a court date.
A VEC spokesman said Mr Paker’s case could not be discussed for privacy reasons.
He stressed that electing to go to court was not the only option open to people who had received fines.
“Recipients can also request an internal review, which is assessed independently of the initial assessment,” he said. The spokesman said the VEC did not know how many people had elected to take their fines to court.
February 28, 2017: Voter no-show for council return
April 7, 2017: Thousands fined $78 for not voting in council election