Shire elections declared invalid

Shire elections declared invalid

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

In a sensational decision, the 2021 local government election for the North Ward in the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale has been declared invalid by the Court of Disputed Returns, forcing a fresh election to be called.
The decision is the culmination of cases jointly heard, brought by shire resident Shaye Mack and the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale.
Magistrate Trevor Darge reserved the question of a date for the new election, as well as the questions of costs, for a period of 21 days, to allow the Shire and the Western Australian Electoral Commission sufficient time to make necessary arrangements.
The magistrate gave his reasoning in a 32-page document, including a summary of key evidence of ballot theft and mismatched signatures on voting and enrolment documents.
“On 29 September 2021 two individuals Ved Tewari and Amandeep Rosha were arrested and later pled guilty to stealing ballots,” the document said, describing the action as “a dedicated if amateurish criminal attempt to alter the election.”
“In my view there is as reliable a possibility that Ms Rosha and Mr Tewari engaged in the plan to steal voting slips to assist Mr Singh as it is that they did so to damage his chances.
“Was this an endeavour by two rogue operators or were there other people involved in stealing ballots?”
In finalising his reasons for the decision, Magistrate Darge added:
“Though Mr Singh has not been accused of directing Mr Tewari or Ms Rosha the unfortunate fact is that if he is, through no fault of his own, “damned by association” it is not the fault of any other party and they should not share in that load.”
Regarding instances of mismatched signatures on voting documents, the decision referred to a view formed by WAEC officers that “there were over 30 declarations where the signature on the declarations appeared to be significantly different to the signatures on the enrolment source documents,” from a sample of 42 individuals who said they had not received their voting packages.
In the wake of evidence that lead to more questions than answers about the level and extent of ballot theft and fraud on the outcome of the election, Magistrate Darge stated, “the real question here is one of uncertainty.”
Following the courts declaration, Mr Coales and Mr Singh are no longer members of the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale council.
Their positions on council will be left to the results of a new election, to be held in coming months.
It is now a matter of weeks before a date for the new election will be set.