Inquiry into informal votes in Maitland  

 MAITLAND councillor Henry Meskauskas wants a detailed investigation into why there were about 1000 informal votes in each of the four wards in last month’s local government elections.

He also wants a review of Maitland’s ward boundaries. 

Cr Meskauskas said he wanted the votes examined to see what mistakes voters made, whether they voted incorrectly or they defaced ballot papers.

Maitland is one of several Hunter local government areas that had high informal rates in the poll.

Lake Macquarie, Singleton and Upper Hunter Shire councils were others.

Cr Meskauskas said voter confusion about how to fill out the ballot could be one reason people voted informally.

Another could have been anger because wards that shared boundaries did not share polling booths, inconveniencing voters.

A report to tonight’s council meeting says only general manager David Evans can authorise the opening and scrutinising of ballots and he needs a council resolution to do so.

Maitland City Council returning officer Kevin Short is preparing a report on the 2012 elections for Mr Evans.

The council report says any adjustment of ward boundaries would have to wait until closer to the next elections in 2016 because of the rapid population changes in the local government area.

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