Ballot thieves under investigation

Ballot thieves under investigation

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Election day
Saturday is the final day for in-person voting for the fresh election in the SJ Shire.

The two individuals arrested over the theft of ballots in Byford last year are the subject of an investigation by the West Australian Electoral Commission.

Amandeep Rosha and Ved Tewari were arrested in the lead up to the local government elections in the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale after residents witnessed them removing ballots from mailboxes on September 29, 2021.

While the pair have faced court on theft-related charges, the revelation of an investigation by the WAEC means they may face prosecution under the Local Government Act, which covers electoral offences including “offences relating to (1) A person who — (a) forges or fraudulently defaces or destroys a ballot paper or nomination paper; or (b) fraudulently puts a ballot paper into a ballot box; or (c) wilfully destroys, takes, opens or otherwise interferes with any ballot box or ballot papers without authority.”

The news comes in the wake of a recent announcement of a date for a fresh election in the North Ward of the shire, which will take place on October 22, after the results of the 2021 North Ward elections were declared invalid by the Court of Disputed Returns in July.

The two North Ward council seats, occupied by former councillors Rob Coales and Gary Singh, were made vacant following the ruling.

During the hearings at the Court of Disputed Returns, evidence was submitted showing numerous instances of potentially fraudulent signatures on ballot slips, including signed declarations from 27 electors saying the vote submitted in their name was not theirs.

While a decision over the date of the new election has been reached, questions remain over the awarding of costs related to the trial.

A special council meeting on July 11 resulted in a decision to seek an order for costs from Mr Tewari and Ms Rosha.

A hearing over the awarding of costs stemming from the Shire’s invalidity complaint to the Court of Disputed Returns was adjourned on Wednesday, August 10 until October 7.

As the fresh election will be conducted in-person, votes are to be cast at a nominated polling place and residents seeking a postal vote will need to make a separate application.
Early voting will be available at specified locations approximately one month before the election.

To be included in the electoral roll for the election, residents must enrol no later than 5pm, on Friday, September 2.

To find out more about how to vote, visit sjshire.wa.gov.au/council-elections-frequently-asked-questions.aspx