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Division 5 recount denied

Kerry Short is disgusted after hearing many complaints made against Greg Barnes's actions at the Carlyle Gardens polling booth.
Kerry Short is disgusted after hearing many complaints made against Greg Barnes's actions at the Carlyle Gardens polling booth. Scottie Simmonds

DIVISION 5 candidate Kerry Short is fuming after the Electoral Commission of Queensland refused his request for a recount - despite just 57 votes separating him and winner Greg Barnes.

But in an email Mr Short received on Friday, following the closest race of the Bundaberg local elections, Queensland electoral commissioner David Kerslake turned down his request, saying it would need "firm grounds" to grant a recount.

"In this instance, the extent of the margin (57 votes) indicates to me that there is no objective likelihood that a recount would impact upon the final result," the letter said.

Cr Barnes, the sitting councillor, was declared the winner on Friday.

Mr Short said he was astounded a recount was refused when there was such a small margin between the two candidates, even after preferences were allocated.

"If there were just 28 votes which had gone to Barnes when they were meant for me, it could be completely different," he said.

The electoral commission has refused to answer why the recount was knocked back, or explain what circumstances would justify one.

Mr Short also questioned the commission's running of the elections, saying he believed few preferences were allocated because most voters had been told at polling stations to "just vote 1" by staff, despite the local elections being run under the optional preferential system.

The NewsMail reported after the election that a large number of voters had been told the same in booths across the region, and Bundaberg man Peter Gray lodged an official complaint with the commission about the issue.

Mr Short has also made complaints to the commission regarding what he saw as an unfair advantage to Cr Barnes.

He said he had been told by the chairman of the residents' committee that candidates were not allowed to attend the institutional voting at Carlyle Gardens held on April 18, which three of the four candidates respected, but that Cr Barnes had been allowed to hand out how-to-vote cards there.

Cr Barnes told the NewsMail he had been told no such thing, and that he had handed out how-to-vote cards and acted as a scrutineer in accordance with electoral law.

"I did everything the principal officer asked me to do," he said.

Topics:  bundaberg regional council, division 5, electoral commission of queensland, kerry short, politics, recount


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