The AEC will conduct a special count in Canberra on Friday 18 May 2018 to identify which candidate is entitled to be elected to the Senate from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), to the place left vacant by the ineligibility of Ms Katy Gallagher, following the judgement of the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns of 9 May.
Directions have been provided by His Honour Justice Edelman of the High Court specifying how the special count of votes will be conducted.
The special count will not require the manual handling of any Senate ballot papers, as the AEC will use the voter preference data already taken from the ballot papers of votes cast at the 2016 ACT Senate election to complete the special count.
The special count will involve voter preferences for the ineligible candidate Ms Katy Gallagher being disregarded, with these voter preferences now to be counted to the next preferred candidates recorded on each ballot paper, with subsequent preferences to be treated as altered accordingly. Once this is completed, a distribution of preferences will then occur.
Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 candidates who contest federal elections cannot be present to observe the process. Candidates are, however, able to appoint a scrutineer to observe the process on their behalf.
Media or other members of the public will not be permitted to observe the special count.
Once the special count is completed, the Australian Electoral Officer for ACT will provide the result to the High Court of Australia for its consideration. Accordingly, the AEC will be issuing no public announcement of the result of the special count while this matter is before the Court.
On 9 May 2018, the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns determined that Ms Katy Gallagher was ineligible to nominate as a candidate for the 2016 ACT Senate election due to the operation of section 44(i) of the Constitution. Justice Edelman ordered that the vacancy created by Ms Gallagher’s ineligibility should be filled by a special count of the votes cast at the 2016 election.