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Everyone Stay Fucking Calm, But The Australian Electoral Commission Can't Count


The Australian Electoral Commission is one of the country's must trusted institutions. When it's not holding teens hostage to hold hilarious candidate draws, the AEC is responsible for counting literally every vote at every election by hand.

Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

So you should feel assured that the AEC runs its employees through a rigorous training regime. But BuzzFeed News has obtained a leaked copy of the AEC's "election procedures handbook" this year.

On page 45 of the manual is a little scenario that runs employees through a likely situation on election day.


In it, AEC employees are asked to imagine working as an "ordinary issuing officer". Before the day commences you get given 200 House of Representative ballot papers and 200 Senate ballot papers.

Then throughout the day the station is re-upped with ballots, twice. Both times you get an extra 100 ballots. Simple.

But on the "ballot paper reconciliation form" on the next page, the AEC has the scenario graphed out ... HOLY SHIT GUYS THAT DOES NOT ADD UP TO 500 BALLOTS.


Yes. The AEC suggests that you'd be left with 500 ballots at the booth, when in fact you'd have 400.

It's an error of 25%. Oh boy.

A spokesperson for the AEC told BuzzFeed News they could "not confirm" the leaked document was legitimate. "Regardless, the AEC is confident in the procedures in place for the 2016 federal election."

Richard Wainwright / AAPIMAGE

"Each aspect of counting includes multiple layers of scrutiny and is open to party/candidate appointed scrutineers."

Let's just hope they didn't read the counting manual.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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