Disinformation register

The register below lists prominent pieces of disinformation the AEC has discovered regarding the electoral process. It also provides details of actions the AEC has taken in response. The AEC is not the arbiter of truth regarding political communication and do not seek to censor debate in any way. However, when it comes to the election process we conduct, we’re the experts and we’re active in defending Australia’s democracy


Correct information The image that was sent to a Sydney radio station appeared to be concocted, at least in part or through inference of what it represented.

Half the ballots in the image are not real AEC-issued ballot papers - they appear to be photocopies done on the wrong shade of green paper and without a number of the AEC’s security markers in place.

There are various forms of potential explanation for the other ballot papers in the image that do appear to be legitimately issued AEC ballot papers. This includes the ability for people to be issued a ballot paper at a polling place but never cast it, then walking out of the polling place (which occurs every election for a variety of reasons).

Any ballot paper that goes into an AEC ballot box is protected by a chain of custody that starts with barcoded/tracked cable ties and ballot box guards through to security-protected AEC counting centres with supervision and scrutineers in place throughout the counting process.

AEC action

The AEC swiftly investigated the image. We then corrected the disinformation via social media and through media responses.

Date detected

22 June 2022

Source

RadioTwitterFacebook

Category

Counting

Correct information Turnout figures for the 2022 Federal Election cannot be calculated until every possible ballot has been received and admitted to the count – this cannot take place before Friday 3 June. The number being quoted here is an extremely premature point-in-time number of ballot papers counted by the AEC just under one week into the count. It is not an accurate measure of electoral turnout and should not be compared with turnout figures from earlier elections, which were produced after all ballot papers had been received and counted.

AEC action

The AEC swiftly corrected the disinformation via social media.

Date detected

May 2022

Source

Facebook TwitterMass email distributionTelegram

Category

Counting

Correct information - The count has not been outsourced.
- All counting for the 2022 Federal Election is conducted by AEC staff, at AEC venues.
- The AEC does not use vote counting software or voting machines for the HoR.
- House ballot papers are counted by hand, at least twice.
- Senate ballot papers are counted by hand, then scanned and manually verified in order to allocate millions of preferences, using software developed in-house at the AEC.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts corrected the disinformation. AEC TV features a video explaining the Senate counting method.

Date detected

May 2022

Source

Facebook TwitterMass email distributionTelegram

Category

Counting

Correct information To get as early an indication as possible as to who will win each seat, the AEC undertakes what is called a two-candidate-preferred (TCP) count on election night. This is where two candidates thought likely to be the top two in a contest are selected with votes allocated to them based on whichever one is higher on ballot papers.

This is an indication only. If first preference counts lead us to believe that the two candidates selected will not be the top two, then we reset the TCP count. In addition, we do a full distribution of preferences for every single House of Representatives contest with all results data published on the tally room.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts and media team corrected the disinformation and shared a link to a pre-prepared video de-bunking the theory.

Date detected

May 2022

Source

Facebook TwitterMass email distributionTelegram

Category

Counting

Correct information The AEC does a mandatory secondary count, or what we call ‘fresh scrutiny’, of all ballot papers in every contest no matter what the margin is. It is a legislated requirement and some people confuse this with a formal ‘recount’, which is a different thing.

AEC action

The AEC media team corrected the disinformation coming from media outlets, and on social media, by providing them with the correct information about ‘fresh scrutiny’.

Date detected

May 2022

Source

Facebook TwitterMass email distribution

Category

Counting

Correct information The blank column indicates that the independent candidates have chosen to be grouped together on the Senate ballot paper.

A Senate candidate who is not endorsed by a political party can choose to either: be grouped with another candidate above the line; or have the word ‘independent’ printed next to their name. These candidates are still candidates for the election and running as independents.

The AEC employs 105,000 temporary staff, many for a single day, who provide guidance to voters. A small number of individual accounts are not a representative of instructions provided across an operation of more than 8,000 voting venues and millions of individual interactions, including hundreds of thousands of public enquiries.

AEC action

AEC social media account swiftly corrected the disinformation. The AEC also informed media representatives of the correct information upon enquiry.

Date detected

19 May 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter

Category

Preferential voting

Correct information The details of the writs and confirmation of their receipt was circulated in the below newspapers in accordance with section 154(4)(b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth). If a state or territory has two newspapers in wide circulation these details were advertised in both, otherwise the writ was published in a single newspaper (s154(4)(b)(i)-(ii)).

WRIT

 Newspaper

Date Writ ad published 

NEW SOUTH WALES - WRIT

 

 

New South Wales

Daily Telegraph

13-Apr

New South Wales

Sydney Morning Herald

13-Apr

QUEENSLAND - WRIT

 

 

Queensland

Brisbane Courier Mail

13-Apr

SOUTH AUSTRALIA - WRIT

 

 

South Australia

Adelaide Advertiser

13-Apr

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY - WRIT

 

 

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra Times

13-Apr

VICTORIA - WRIT

 

 

Victoria

Herald Sun

13-Apr

Victoria

The Age

13-Apr

WESTERN AUSTRALIA - WRIT

 

 

Western Australia

West Australian

13-Apr

NORTHERN TERRITORY - WRIT

 

 

Northern Territory

Northern Territory News

12-Apr

TASMANIA - WRIT

 

 

Tasmania

Hobart Mercury

12-Apr

 

The Burnie Advocate

12-Apr

 

Launceston Examiner

12-Apr

AEC action

AEC social media account swiftly corrected the disinformation. The AEC also informed media representatives of the correct information upon enquiry.

Date detected

17 May 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter

Category

Preferential voting

Correct information Section 239 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) says that a person ‘must mark his or her vote on the ballot paper in a Senate election’ either by at least:

- writing the numbers 1 to 12 below the line, or
- writing the numbers 1-6 above the line

The instructions on voting that the AEC provides are consistent with this requirement. More information is available here: (www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_Vote/).

The Electoral Act does include provisions that mean that when a voter only marks the number ‘1’ above the line the vote will be counted (section 269). These are commonly known as vote saving provisions. However, these provisions do not change the overarching obligation to vote as outlined above.

AEC action

The AEC has responded to the disinformation online, and has provided instructions to voters and scrutineers in person and through the AEC website.

Date detected

16 May 2022

Source

All

Category

Election validity / postal voting

Correct information The AEC only ever actions communication about the electoral process if it is factually incorrect. The AEC verifies postal voters against the electoral roll prior to sending postal votes, and again on the way back. The generic envelopes displayed in photographs alleging this behaviour are also not AEC postal votes. The envelopes for the 2022 federal election bear the AEC’s branding and logo.

AEC action

The AEC swiftly responded to the Facebook post alleging this behaviour and provided a strong correction. The post was then deleted by the political party.

Date detected

6 May 2022

Source

Facebook

Category

Election validity / postal voting

Correct information The writs for the House of Representatives and the Senate elections for the ACT and NT were signed and issued by the Governor-General on 11 April 2022 in accordance with the Australian Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The writs for the Senate elections for each State were issued by the State Governors.

The AEC is required to deliver the election in accordance with writs and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

It is an entitlement and the duty of every elector to vote at each federal election.

AEC action

Copies of the writs for the House of Representatives are published on the AEC website.

The AEC has advised entity and individuals spreading this disinformation to correct the facts; and that it is an offence under s 329 of the Electoral Act to publish information during the election period that is likely to mislead or deceive someone in relation to the casting of a vote.

Date detected

5 May 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter YouTube TikTok Reddit

Category

Election validity

Correct information There is no evidence of postal vote applications being received under the names of deceased Australians. In addition, the AEC receives regular updates from Births, Deaths and Marriages and applies regular roll objections for deceased Australians. The AEC also conducts verification checks against the electoral roll for postal votes prior to distribution and upon receipt. Any postal vote received that is unable to be matched is rejected.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts swiftly corrected the disinformation. The content was referred to social media organisation for their consideration with posts removed. The AEC also informed media representatives of the correct information upon enquiry.

Date detected

29 April 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter YouTube TikTok Reddit

Category

Election validity / postal voting

Correct information The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 s170(2) mandates that bulk nominations must be submitted 48 hours prior to the close of nominations.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts swiftly corrected the disinformation.

Date detected

14 April 2022

Source

Facebook

Category

Election validity

Correct informationOur polling officials will not accept statutory declarations. Statutory declarations are not a part of the voting process and cannot be used to contest election results. The secret ballot means ballots cannot be matched to individual electors after being placed in the ballot box.

AEC action

The AEC has expressed disappointment about this and other false claims in recent media interviews and on social media channels. While the claims often don’t make direct claims about electoral integrity, they are often examples of a ‘just asking questions’ approach to spreading misinformation and distrust about Australia’s electoral system.

Date detected

15 April 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter Telegram

Category

Election validity / political neutrality

Correct information While some Australians are objected from the electoral roll this only occurs when trusted third-party data indicates their current enrolment details may no longer be correct – as an enrolment integrity measure. In addition every person objected from the roll receives a notification, allowing for a right of reply, before the action is taken.

AEC action

The AEC wrote to the entity responsible for the communication expressing disappointment and providing the facts. In addition, we published material online and distributed a media release about the engagement activities we are undertaking to support electoral participation, and the current enrolment rate estimates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait people .

Date detected

7 April 2022

Source

Mass email distribution

Category

Indigenous participation

Correct information As has been the case since Federation, there will only be one federal election in 2022 run by the AEC in accordance with the Australian Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

AEC action

The AEC engaged the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce. The individuals responsible received a warning that the communication could be considered an impersonation of a commonwealth body and/or misleading in relation to the act of voting. Relevant websites were subsequently taken down.

Date detected

7 April 2022

Source

Individual websites Proforma emails

Category

Election validity

Correct information The AEC doesn’t get advanced notice of election timing.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts responded swiftly and regularly to incorrect online suggestions using a pre-prepared AEC TV video.

Regular pre-election media engagement activities, including briefings and interviews, noted that the AEC is not aware of the election date.

Date detected

August 2021

Source

Facebook Twitter

Category

Election timing

Correct informationThe Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 does not allow for voting machines to be used.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts responded swiftly and regularly to incorrect online suggestions. An AEC TV video was created and used to debunk the disinformation.

The correct information was provided to a number of journalists through enquiries and interviews, including AAP fact check.

Date detected

October 2021

Source

Facebook Political party website Public protests

Category

Voting technology

Correct informationAll enrolled Australians will be able to access voting services.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts swiftly corrected the disinformation and shared a link to a pre-prepared video about our Stop & Consider Campaign.

Date detected

November 2021

Source

Facebook Twitter Reddit

Category

COVID-19 safety measures

Correct informationThe AEC does not require scrutineers to be vaccinated.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts have corrected the disinformation several times and shared a link to the AEC Covid-19 Safety Measures webpage.

Date detected

November 2021

Source

Facebook Twitter Telegram Political party website Public protests

Category

COVID-19 safety measures

Correct informationPencil marks are not erased. Polling officials are never alone with ballot papers.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts corrected the disinformation and shared a link to a pre-prepared video debunking the theory.

Date detected

November 2021

Source

Facebook Twitter Telegram

Category

Counting

Correct informationA vote cast in this way is simply informal and has no other potential effect.

AEC action

A message was posted across all AEC social media channels de-bunking the disinformation. This post featured a pre-prepared AEC TV video

Date detected

December 2021

Source

Telegram

Category

Formality

Correct informationParties can suggest where a voter should mark their preferences but voters don’t have to follow how-to-vote cards

AEC action

AEC social media accounts have regularly provided proactive and reactive messages regarding preferential voting.

Date detected

December 2021

Source

Twitter

Category

Preferential voting

Correct informationIt is not legally possible to postpone the federal election without passing a referendum

AEC action

AEC Twitter account fiercely corrected the disinformation.

Date detected

December 2021

Source

Twitter

Category

Election timing

Correct informationIf your #1 preference doesn’t get enough votes your vote transfers at full value until it is counted for one of the two leading candidates

AEC action

AEC social media accounts distributed proactive and reactive messages regularly to inform voters about the preferential voting system.

Date detected

January 2022

Source

Facebook Twitter Telegram TikTok Reddit Political party communication

Category

Preferential voting

Correct informationAEC enrolment and voting information was included in material given to new Australian citizens.

AEC action

AEC Twitter account swiftly corrected the disinformation and provided the real facts.

Date detected

January 2022

Source

Twitter

Category

Electoral communication

Correct informationThe AEC does not use Scytl voting software.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts quickly corrected the disinformation.

Date detected

January 2022

Source

Facebook Telegram

Category

Voting technology

Correct informationThere is no limit in electoral laws on the timing or placement of electoral advertising.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts swiftly and regularly corrected the disinformation. AEC spokespeople also provided the scope of electoral laws in various pre-election media enquiries and interviews.

Date detected

December 2021

Source

Twitter

Category

Electoral communication

Correct informationA range of security measures are in place for postal voting. 'Deregistration' is not possible prior to applications opening.

AEC action

AEC social media accounts swiftly debunked this theory.

The AEC also referred multiple social media posts on this matter to social media organisations – action taken by social media organisations included removal of posts as it violated platform policies.

Date detected

February 2022

Source

YouTube Twitter Instagram Telegram AEC website

Category

Postal voting

Correct informationBlank ballots are informal and 'donkey votes' are counted according to the ballot paper order.

AEC action

The AEC’s social media accounts debunked the information using a pre-prepared graphic. Corrections included the AEC’s selectively used forthright tone.

Date detected

February 2022

Source

Twitter

Category

Formality

Correct informationThe AEC and its entire staff are politically neutral

AEC action

AEC Twitter account replied regularly with a pre-prepared video about the AEC’s political neutrality and facts about the Electoral Commissioner’s appointment.

Date detected

Ongoing

Source

Twitter

Category

Political neutrality

Correct informationThe AEC and its entire staff are politically neutral

AEC action

AEC social media accounts replied regularly about the AEC’s neutrality with a pre-prepared video and facts about the redistribution process.

Date detected

Ongoing

Source

Facebook Twitter

Category

Political neutrality

Updated: 20 July 2022