When Pauline Hanson first nominated for the NSW Upper House, I think everyone expected drama, but surely nothing like this.
First we had the drama as the final seat went down to the wire, and the sniping between Labor and the Greens about whose fault it would be if she was elected.
Then we had the chance to view the distribution of preferences and see just how close Hanson got to a seat.
But even though Hanson missed out in the end (at least according to the NSW Electoral Commission) she has refused to lie down.
As far back as the day that the final count was announced (April 12), Hanson was crying foul.
Hanson complained then that the the system leans towards the major parties because they get to have their names above the line.
She also pointed to the 230 000 informal votes and 200 000 blank votes and suggested that there is "something wrong with the system".
Two days later on April 14 Hanson was demanding a recount. There is an extremely complex system whereby preferences are distributed that I don't intend to address, but suffice to say Hanson felt that she had been cheated by it.
More recently though, a more serious complaint has emerged.
There appear to be 2 distinct branches of complaint.
First of all, as detailed in this article, at least one scrutineer discovered Hanson votes sorted with blank votes.
We're given no further details in that story, but this would seem to be a fairly weak complaint - no doubt every party lost out on some votes that were incorrectly counted or distributed. This problem will persist until the day we finally do away with paper voting entirely.
The more interesting complaint is explained here.
In essence, she is complaining that dodgy electoral staff have "cheated" her out of a seat.
According to the Tele, her solicitor said that "an email had been sent to Ms Hanson from someone within the NSW Electoral Commission proving her claims were true."
The Herald goes one further and appears to quote said email, which reads as follows: "We know some of her people and the media are looking at the blank ballots and are trying to get them all rechecked because one of her scrutineers was meant to of (sic) found some of her votes in amongst the blanks (I have heard through the chain that there could be as many as 1200 across the state that are in with the blanks as there were a few dodgy electoral staff on, but don't offer that)."
It goes without saying that if the claim is true then it would a scandal of enormous proportions.
The important questions are:
- Who wrote this email?
- What level of knowledge did the writer have?
- What evidence is there of "dodgy electoral staff"?
- Is dodgy meant to suggest incompetent, or corrupt?
- What basis is there for the claim of 1200 votes?
At this stage, the whole thing looks a little groundless. Hopefully as things progress is made we will find out more about Hanson's claims.