We developed an online election complaint form in August 2020 with comprehensive user testing and plain English wording to ensure complainants could understand what we could and could not receive complaints about.
There were 381 complaints or enquiries lodged through the specific election complaint form during the election period. Other complaints were lodged through the standard online complaint form, phone and email.
Election period policies
All Victorian councils must have a policy covering the election period, also known as the ‘caretaker period’. The election period policies ensure councils are transparent and accountable during the election process. Our website contains some best-practice examples of election period policies from a range of councils.
The current electoral system relies on councillor candidates understanding the eligibility criteria and then correctly completing the nomination form. It is vulnerable to candidates misunderstanding the criteria or having an intention to deceive.
Candidate eligibility needs to be tightened by asking a candidate when they nominate for election to produce a police and bankruptcy check. There is little risk that an eligible and genuine candidate would be prevented from nominating if this requirement was in place.
The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) produces a handbook for candidates who intend to stand which covers nominating, election campaign material and election compliance. There have been considerable efforts by the VEC to explain the election process simply but there is still room for improvement. We spoke to many candidates who had either not read or had not retained information from the candidate booklet.
Candidates come from a range of backgrounds, including different levels of education, community engagement and different cultural backgrounds. The language and design of the booklet needs to be made as accessible as possible.