A heated debate is brewing in Australia ahead of the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament for Aboriginal Australians. The Yes and No camps have engaged in a fierce mudslinging contest, with prominent figures from both sides coming forward to voice their opinions. One of the leading Yes campaigners is multi-millionaire Aboriginal activist Noel Pearson, who, along with fellow agitator Marcia Langton, has criticized prominent No advocate Warren Mundine for opposing the divisive Voice.
The final outcome of the referendum will be determined by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), an organization that has faced doubts about its integrity from voting analysts for quite some time. Many experts question the credibility of the AEC, especially given its involvement in previous controversial events, such as the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite.
AEC Commissioner Tom Rogers, who was previously employed by defense contractor Raytheon, has refused to address concerns raised by Cairns News regarding false entries on the electoral roll. He continues to assert that the roll is clean despite evidence suggesting otherwise. Rogers has also failed to provide a satisfactory response to the mishandling of 248,000 returned letters marked “addressee unknown” during the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite. The Australian Bureau of Statistics, which conducted the plebiscite, shredded the envelopes instead of passing on the addressee details to the AEC, raising questions about the accuracy and transparency of the process.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that previous investigations conducted by Senator Len Harris’ office in 2005 uncovered at least 400,000 bogus entries in the electoral roll. Despite this revelation, there have been no reports of these false entries being rectified in the past two decades. This raises concerns about the integrity of the roll and the accuracy of the latest data presented by the AEC.
The most recent data released by the AEC shows a significant increase in Aboriginal enrollments on the electoral roll in a relatively short period of time. The numbers have risen by nearly 20% since 2017, with year-on-year increases. However, there are doubts about the authenticity of these figures, as the AEC lacks the means to accurately calculate the total number of genuine Aboriginal Australians. Tens of thousands of non-Indigenous Australians have been found to falsely claim Aboriginal heritage, contributing to an inflated number of Aboriginal enrollments.
The AEC claims that Indigenous enrollment rates have reached over 90% for the first time ever, up from 84.5% at the end of 2022. More than 60,000 Indigenous Australians have enrolled since the end of 2022, resulting in a current enrollment rate of 94.1%, up from 74.7% since 2017. This represents a significant increase in Indigenous enrollments across all states and territories. In contrast, the non-Indigenous enrollment rate stands at 97.5%, up from 97.1% at the end of 2022.
Critics argue that the sudden surge in enrollments, particularly in remote Indigenous communities, is highly unlikely and raises suspicions of voting fraud. Lex Stewart, a voting fraud expert, believes that the tyranny of distance and remoteness of these communities make it improbable for such a large number of enrollments to occur within a short span of time. He questions why these substantial enrollments have only been achieved right before the upcoming referendum and not in previous elections.
Various complaints have been lodged regarding the state of the electoral roll. The Mayor of the West Arnhem Regional Council submitted a complaint to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, alleging a gerrymander that suppresses or inhibits the franchise for Aboriginal residents of remote communities. The Northern Territory Electoral Commissioner has also criticized the AEC’s mismanagement of the roll, highlighting the divide between urban and remote voters. In many outback seats, voter turnout dwindles to about 50%. Challenges such as the lack of postal delivery services in remote areas have resulted in a decline in roll accuracy and hindered the measurement of actual participation among Aboriginal Territorians.
It is evident that the issue of enrollment and participation among Aboriginal Australians is complex and multifaceted. The upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament will serve as a crucial test for the AEC and its ability to ensure fair and transparent democratic processes. Given the concerns about the integrity of the electoral roll and the potential for voting fraud, it is essential that these issues are addressed to uphold the principles of democracy and ensure equal representation for all Australians.