Allegations by two Liberal MPs about votes being manipulated revealed their ignorance of the Electoral Act, Parliamentary and Electoral Reform Minister Geoff Gallop said today.
Dr Gallop was referring to remarks made by Liberal MLCs Bob Pike and Norman Moore.
"Mr Pike's fears about blank ballot papers possibly being marked illegally boils down to an allegation that some electoral officials could be corrupt," Dr Gallop said.
"As usual, no evidence has been produced and until it is the claim should be treated with scorn.
"The fact is that at the counting of votes, all proceedings are open to scrutineers appointed by each candidate.
"The number of informal votes must be recorded at the first stage of the count and any change to those tallies is subject to scrutiny.
"Furthermore, the Act already provides for informal ballot papers to be marked `rejected' or `admitted' when challenged by a scrutineer."
Dr Gallop said poor voting results for Liberal candidates at some polling places seemed to have led Mr Moore to allege that Aboriginal voters were being `used'.
"Mr Moore is another example of a senior Liberal spokesperson who obviously does not know the Electoral Act," Dr Gallop said.
"Section 129 of the Electoral Act allows an elector to seek help with voting by handing a written instruction or how to vote card to the electoral official.
"Assistance to vote is much appreciated by anyone who has difficulty. This includes visually impaired people, non-literate people and those with language problems.
"When many people seek help from an official it is perfectly logical that their votes will be valid. But instead of being pleased that people are voting effectively, Mr Moore concludes that people are being used."
Dr Gallop said the Liberal plan to send `special observers' to Ashburton next Saturday was reminiscent of 1977 when Liberal `observers' forced electors to answer such silly questions as,
`Are you a natural born or naturalised subject of the Queen?' or -
`Are you disqualified from voting?'
"This is all depressingly familiar. Liberal policy is to make voting difficult, confusing and to hinder rather than help," Dr Gallop said.
"By making their unsubstantiated allegations, Mr Pike and Mr Moore are deliberately raising doubts about the integrity of electoral officials and the whole electoral process."