- Monday, 19 October 2020 at 6:24 am
Property managers are required to follow electoral laws during the 2020 Victorian local council elections and not submit voting papers on behalf of international or interstate landlords.
At many apartment buildings across metropolitan Melbourne, property managers are authorised by international or interstate landlords to manage all aspects of their property. That authorisation, however, cannot include casting a vote under Victorian electoral laws.
Acting Chief Municipal Inspector Dr John Lynch said the Local Government Inspectorate and Victorian Electoral Commission had received recent enquiries from property managers relating to their responsibilities during the 2020 elections.
“We are working with the VEC to provide clarity for property managers and agents to ensure there is a clear understanding of rules and responsibilities during these elections”, Dr Lynch said.
Real estate agents and property managers who have already submitted ballot papers on behalf of landlords are urged to contact the VEC.
Under the Local Government Act, it is a serious offence to vote in the name of another person. This can carry a penalty of up to five years imprisonment.
The Local Government Inspectorate investigated alleged fraudulent submission of ballot papers during the Melbourne Lord Mayor by-election in 2018.
While that investigation did not identify systemic or intentional ballot fraud, interviews with property managers revealed the issue arose from a misunderstanding of the electoral laws.
The investigation found that 41 ballot papers were marked by a person other than the enrolled voter. Formal warnings were issued to five people and the Inspectorate also provided guidance to ensure property managers understand and follow relevant electoral rules.
Importantly, the investigation found that the 41 declaration envelopes were detected by VEC processes and excluded from the ballot count, therefore not affecting the outcome.
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