Monique Ryan voting cards confuse voters in Kooyong

Monique Ryan's voting cards have caused some confusion at the ballot box.

Monique Ryan’s voting cards have caused some confusion at the ballot box.Credit:moniqueryan.com.au

“A vote on the House ballot is considered informal if a voter has marked only one box with the number ‘1’ and left the rest of the boxes empty,” the spokeswoman said.

While Ryan’s voting cards don’t mark every box, they do include a message — written in red and marked “IMPORTANT” — reminding voters to assign preferences. But some voters seem to visually absorb the voting cards and miss the written message.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said independents, including Indi MP Helen Haines and former New England MP Tony Windsor, did not list preferences on their voting cards. There was no evidence of a higher than average number of informal votes in their seats.

However, he said it is a potential problem for independents if voters are not clearly informed, both on the how-to-vote card and verbally by volunteers in polling stations, that all the boxes must be marked.

“Independents really have to take him into account. They need to make it very clear that voters have to number all the boxes,” he said.

Four blue-green volunteers in Kooyong said: The age they heard voters indicate that they voted for Ryan without checking any other boxes. A campaigner said it was difficult to estimate how many people made the mistake, as some may not have realized they had cast an invalid vote.

“It could be just a few hundred, or it could be thousands. We don’t know,” said one.

Since becoming aware of the issue, dozens of Ryan volunteers at the Kooyong Early Election Center in Hawthorn have been instructed to prioritize educating voters to tick each box. The age observed Ryan campaigners diligently carrying out this task Friday.

The campaign team of thousands of people, which claims to have knocked more houses into one electorate than any other Australian political group in history, has explored options to fix the problem.

Loading

Options included printing a group of randomized preference allocation voting cards, which could be laminated and handed to voters as they entered the polling booths, before being returned to a volunteer.

Another option was to copy Climate 200-backed independent in Wentworth, Allegra Spender, whose voting cards contain question marks in her opponents’ boxes. A source campaigning with Spender last week said multiple voters indicated they hadn’t numbered every box.

A passionate supporter of Ryan, the former director of neurology at the Royal Children’s Hospital, entered the candidate’s campaign office in a dismayed state after realizing they had only marked one box.

Zoe Daniel, a journalist who became an independent candidate for Goldstein in southeastern Melbourne, said her volunteers reminded people to fill in each square. “They seem to have gotten the message,” she said in a written statement.

Australians have been required to number every box in House elections since World War I, Green said.

In elections in South Australia, ballots with only one box filled in are still counted as parties decide where the preferences are sent. In NSW state elections, voters are required to select only one candidate.

Monique Ryan's supporters gathered outside the old pub on Saturday where her mural had been painted over.

Monique Ryan’s supporters gathered outside the old pub on Saturday where her mural had been painted over.

About 5.5 percent of voters in the 2019 election misspelled the vote in the House of Commons. Groen expected this to increase on May 21 as a higher number of candidates would lead to more errors. About a third of informal ballots are those with only a “1”.

On Saturday, Ryan’s supporters flooded the Kew Junction site where a Ryan-themed mural had been painted over after the building’s owners claimed on Friday that permission had never been granted. Ryan’s campaign disputes this.

Leave a Comment