AEC to investigate lack of ballot papers at Avoca booth
THE woman at the centre of an election day fiasco has demanded an apology from the Australian Electoral Commission and lodged a complaint after she says she was told she would be excused from voting.
Despite the AEC telling the NewMail they dropped additional ballot papers at the Avoca polling booth to ensure a sufficient supply all day Saturday, Debbie Knowles said she was given the option of being and recorded as "attempted to vote" as a result of there being a lack of ballot papers.
Ms Knowles said she was waiting in line at the Avoca polling booth at about 4.50pm Saturday when she was approached by two AEC officials who she said told her the booth only had about 40 ballot papers left and didn't know when they would be getting more.
Ms Knowles said they were carrying clipboards and wrote down her details, including her name and phone number in a white book.
"I went up there three times to vote and the line was ridiculous ... I didn't have time to wait," she said.
"So I left it until late thinking it was 5pm they finished the voting so I got up there about 4.45pm when I'd finished everything I had to do.
"So I lined up and the line moved minimally in 10 minutes.
"There was probably 30 to 40 people in front of me when a guy came down the line and said there wasn't enough papers and they were going to run out."
Ms Knowles said she was told to provide her name and number and she would be recorded as "tried to vote but couldn't" - which meant she wouldn't be subject to a fine.
"So I did and I left after that, I didn't wait," she said.
Ms Knowles said she has since contact the AEC Hinkler office to lodge a complaint and has been contacted by one other woman who reported the same thing.
The NewsMail has contacted the AEC yesterday morning and they initially said additional ballot papers were delivered to Hinkler polling booths during Saturday as stocks ran low, but those stocks were replenished and no one was told they couldn't vote.
Hinkler Divisional Returning Officer Kym Maguire said more than 700 additional ballot papers where delivered to Avoca throughout the day but a polling liaison officer was on site and ensured the papers were delivered before they actually ran out.
The NewsMail contacted the AEC again yesterday after Ms Knowles disputed the AEC's comments and the AEC confirmed the matter was now under investigation.
- Carolyn Archer