A losing candidate in Saturday’s North Shore by-election will take the extraordinary step of legally challenging the election results to try to instigate an inquiry into claims election officials provided incorrect information to voters.
Mosman Councillor Carolyn Corrigan was on Thursday morning declared to have lost Saturday’s byelection for the seat of North Shore by about 3400 votes on a two-party preferred count despite a 15-point first preference swing away from the Liberal Party.
Cr Corrigan secured 45.3 per cent of the two-party preferred vote on the final count. But the government declared victory on a tense election night after it became apparent that not enough preferences were flowing to her from other independents and the Greens to close the gap with Liberal candidate Felicity Wilson.
In an extraordinary eleventh-hour appeal Cr Corrigan formally asked the Commission to suspend its announcement of results pending an inquiry in a letter sent late on Wednesday.
Cr Corrigan said voters were confused about how preferences flowed under NSW’s electoral system and that officials may have provided advice that was “incorrect, misleading, incomplete, inappropriate, unsolicited and gratuitous”.
The Electoral Commission denied it provided incorrect advice and said it has no power to suspend the announcement of results, which Cr Corrigan said would lead her to file a challenge in the Court of Disputed Returns.
“I feel that I have no choice but to do so,” Cr Corrigan said. “There’s so many aspects of concern”.
The Corrigan campaign says it has been contacted by 20 people who allege they were told to “just vote one in any box” by officials stationed at polling booths.
Cr Corrigan said an official voting guide printed by the Commission ahead of the by-election did not provide information about NSW’s optional preferential voting system.
A spokesman for the Commission said it had received four complaints about the byelection, an amount it did not consider unusual for an election of this size. Hearing reports of 40% Green & Mutton exhaustion rates which suggests Corrigan can’t close 41% to 26% Liberal lead #northshore??? Antony Green (@AntonyGreenABC) April 8, 2017