Fresh election to be called

Fresh election to be called

98
Shaye Mack leaving the courts following its decision on July 1.

In a sensational decision on Friday, July 1, the Court of Disputed Returns declared the results of the 2021 Serpentine Jarrahdale local government elections in the North Ward invalid, forcing a fresh election to be called.
The verdict means that former council members Rob Coales and Gary Singh no longer hold their positions on council and will need to win their seats in a fresh election, for which a date will be set in coming weeks.
The case was sparked following an invalidity complaint brought by former candidate Shaye Mack on November 2, which was followed on November 12 with a complaint from the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.
On 29 September, two individuals with links to Mr Singh’s campaign, Amandeep Rosha and Ved Tewari, were found in possession of 46 voting packages in Byford, and later charged.
Neither Ms Rosha nor Mr Tewari gave evidence at the hearing, leading Magistrate Trevor Darge to state that, in his, view, it was difficult to conclude the reason for the theft, or whether they intended to harm or assist Mr Singh’s campaign through their actions.
Mr Singh maintained that he had nothing to do with the theft of the ballots, and none of the parties to the hearing suggest he was involved in the scheme.
However, the magistrate was clear in his conclusion that the evidence “supports a finding that Ms Rosha and Mr Tewari engaged in a fraudulent scheme to influence the result of the North Ward election.”
“If I could be confident that their scheme was limited to those votes and only to those votes, then despite the severity of the fraud it would not be proper to overturn the election,” the decision read.
“How many ballots in total did the thieves steal? How many did they retain? Who did they vote for, if anyone, on the ballots? How many were returned?
“It is in the face of the unknowable that I have considerable disquiet.”
On the weekend of October 9, Mr Mack conducted a doorknock survey, during which 55 of 120 electors spoken to advised they had not received their voting packages.
By the day of the election, the WAEC system showed that 46 of the 55 individuals identified in Mr Mack’s survey had voted.
A WAEC Officer compared the signatures of 42 of these individuals on voting declarations against their enrolment source documents and formed the view that over 30 of those contained mismatches.
A separate investigation conducted at the behest of the WAEC resulted in 27 of the 55 electors identified in Mr Mack’s survey signing statements “to the effect the signature on the declaration slip… is not their signature, and that they did not cast that vote.”
Magistrate Darge stated it was the seriousness of the fraud, the uncertainty of its extent, and the degree to which the election may have been affected that led him “to take the serious step of declaring the election void.”
Examiner Newspapers has reached out to all of the 2021 candidates in the North Ward election regarding their intention to run in a fresh election.
So far, Mr Coales and Mr Mack have expressed their intention to run, whilst Joel Chan stated he will not and wished the candidates all the best. No other responses have yet been received.
It is now a matter of weeks before a date for the new election will be set.