Ballot bungles: Lessons from the Australian senate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article provides an overview of the controversy surrounding the 2013 election of senators for Western Australia and the judgment of the High Court of Australia sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns in Australian Electoral Commission v. Johnston. The Court ordered a fresh election for all six senators. The article seeks to distill the key lessons from the case, particularly in respect of the Court’s interpretation of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The case highlights some weaknesses of the Australian electoral system and opportunities for reform. The article affirms recommendations to change the voting system to reduce the impact of preference deals on election outcomes and the disproportionate influence of micro-parties in the Australian Senate. Further, it argues that Australia should move to adopt electronic voting for federal elections.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-569
JournalElection Law Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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