Protecting the integrity of Australia’s electoral processes is critical to maintaining public trust in Australia's democratic processes.
In the context of the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce (the Taskforce), references to electoral integrity relate to the assistance provided by Taskforce agencies that help give assurance to the Australian Electoral Commissioner that a federal electoral event, which includes elections, by-elections and referendums, is unaffected by interference. For the purposes of the Taskforce, interference is characterised as an action intended to affect or disrupt electoral processes or outcomes.
The Taskforce is not involved in the delivery of electoral events, and does not have any role in other elements of electoral integrity such as electoral processes, policies, procedures or administrative or regulatory decisions.
Potential threats to electoral integrity can come in the form of cyber or physical security incidents, misinformation or disinformation campaigns, and through perceived or actual interference in electoral processes.
Public trust in the integrity of an electoral event can be undermined by the realisation or perceived realisation of such threats. The Taskforce ensures that information about these threats is efficiently referred to the relevant agencies, facilitates cooperation and coordination between these agencies, and enables them to work together to take any appropriate action.
The Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce (the Taskforce) and the Taskforce Board (the Board) are constituted by relevant agencies across Federal Government, working together to provide information and advice to the Electoral Commissioner on matters that may compromise the real or perceived integrity of federal electoral events, including referendums.
The following agencies are members of the Taskforce:
In addition to the above Taskforce members, the following agencies are members of the EIAT Board:
The Taskforce functions at an operational level and is overseen by a Board. At the operational level the Taskforce is chaired by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Taskforce and Board is an ongoing construct and they continue to meet through non-election periods to share relevant information and prepare for upcoming electoral events.
The Taskforce also provides support to the integrity of State or Territory elections, upon the request of the relevant state or territory electoral commissioner.
The Taskforce provides a mechanism for sharing information between relevant agencies on potential threats to electoral integrity such as disinformation campaigns, foreign interference and cyber intrusions. For more information on these potential threats:
The Taskforce is responsible for assessing, understanding and mitigating these risks and, if required, providing advice to the Electoral Commissioner on how they can best be managed.
Each member agency works within their existing remit to provide this service, while maintaining strict political neutrality and impartiality. For a referendum, this political neutrality extends to also being neutral on the issue that is the subject to amend the Constitution.
As part of preparations for federal electoral events, the Taskforce works with online media platforms to ensure strategies are in place to combat the dissemination of disinformation about the electoral process online, and to address breaches of relevant Commonwealth legislation.
Protecting the integrity of Australia’s electoral processes is critical to maintaining public trust in Australia's democratic processes. In turn, public trust in the legitimacy and integrity of these electoral processes is essential to the effective functioning of our democracy.
In an environment that is constantly changing, with a growing proliferation of threats including disinformation, foreign interference and cyber and physical incidents, the Taskforce exists to protect and preserve Australia’s electoral integrity, strengthening public trust and enhancing the effectiveness of our democratic systems.
Taskforce agencies (and others as required) work together to detect and respond to malign information activity occurring during electoral periods.
Upon being made aware of a potential threat to the integrity of an electoral event, the Taskforce uses a referral process to ensure that information is passed to the relevant agency to consider appropriate action. Depending on the specifics of the incident, the Taskforce may work with the relevant agency or agencies to coordinate an appropriate response.
Electoral and referendum laws require electoral and referendum communications to be authorised. The key objective of the authorisation requirements is to allow voters to know who is communicating about an electoral matter.
Each federal electoral event, the AEC runs an advertising campaign branded ‘Stop and Consider’, encouraging voters to check the source of the material they see or hear.
The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (the Scheme) provides visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence in Australia’s political and governmental processes. It does this by requiring any person or entity that undertakes registrable activities in Australia for the purpose of influencing a political or governmental process or decision on behalf of a foreign principal to disclose these details on the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Public Register.
Broadly speaking, any person is required to register if:
The Scheme applies to federal electoral events, including registrable activities undertaken in Australia on behalf of a foreign principal for the purpose of influencing voters in Australian elections and referendums. This includes communications activities: the public communication or distribution of information, or the production of such information for the purpose of it being publicly communicated or distributed by a third party (such as by a media outlet or social media platform).
The Scheme imposes additional registrant obligations during voting periods. During federal elections, activities must be registered within seven days.