‘Poor form’

A BAYSWATER councillor has slammed the Liberal party for using a tactic she says might trick voters into inadvertently sending it sensitive information.

The Libs have mailed out packages spruiking candidate Jeremy Quinn, who’s in a close contest for the federal seat of Perth. The package includes a voter registration form which looks like the Australian Electoral Commission version and includes a reply paid envelope.

It’s only when you Google the benign sounding return address of “Processing Centre, Reply Paid 49, West Perth” that you learn the forms are going back to the Liberal party. By law, the party then has to forward the form onto the AEC.

• Catherine Ehrhardt says locals are being stung by tricky voting forms that send your details to the Liberal party. Photo by Steve Grant

• Catherine Ehrhardt says locals are being stung by tricky voting forms that send your details to the Liberal party. Photo by Steve Grant

Secret question

Cr Catherine Ehrhardt, who’s also a local business owner, says she narrowly managed to stop her own mum from sending sensitive information to the Libs.

Along with name, date of birth and contact details, the form asks for a secret question and answer so the electoral commission can verify someone’s identity.

Ms Ehrhardt points out it’s a security risk because many people use the same answers across many accounts.

“I am not a member of any political party and am a swing voter,” Cr Ehrhardt said.

“Any political party willing to use this style of tactic to attain voter information, without full disclosure, should be questioned as to whether they deserve your vote”.

The practice is legal: The Electoral Act was changed in 1998 allowing parties to attach their material to postal vote applications and receive them, as long as they then forwarded them on to the AEC.

Federal parliament looked at changing the rules in 2010 but it fell in a heap. In 2011 the Christian Democratic Party challenged electoral results arguing they’d been affected by similar forms, but the court of disputed returns knocked back the challenge since the practice wasn’t a breach.

But legal or not chatter online suggests voters aren’t happy: Warnings have spread among community groups with whispers of people planning to send the envelopes back laden with glitter to annoy the recipient, and one punter even suggested whacking the reply paid form on a wrapped up brick to amp up the postage costs for the party.

We put it to the Liberal party’s WA campaign HQ the claims that some people found the practice a bit dodge. We haven’t heard back.

by DAVID BELL

934 Auspower 10x2

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