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Aus­tralians will not be any the wiser about who will emerge vic­to­ri­ous from the 2016 fed­eral elec­tion un­til at least to­mor­row. The Aus­tralian Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (AEC) will not be­gin count­ing House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives bal­lots un­til Tues­day, af­ter pre-poll bal­lots for the Se­nate are counted to­day. The com­mis­sion is tak­ing ex­tra care af­ter it came un­der fire in the 2013 elec­tion when 1370 West­ern Aus­tralian (WA) Se­nate bal­lot papers went miss­ing, spark­ing a High Court chal­lenge to the re­sult. Former fed­eral Po­lice com­mis­sioner Mick Keelty, in­ves­ti­gat­ing the miss­ing bal­lot papers, crit­i­cised the AEC’s “lax” and “com­pla­cent” prac­tices. Mr Keelty found there was no ap­par­ent pol­icy or process to cross check rub­bish and re­cy­cling be­fore dis­pos­ing of bal­lot papers to en­sure they were not ac­ci­den­tally thrown out.

“In the 2013 Se­nate Elec­tion in WA, the AEC failed to meet its own high stan­dards and dam­aged its rep­u­ta­tion with the com­mu­nity and the Par­lia­ment,” Mr Keelty said. Phil Diak, a com­mis­sion spokesman, told the ABC that count­ing would be­gin again on Tues­day af­ter all ab­sent, in­ter­state, postal and other dec­la­ra­tion votes were rec­on­ciled, sorted and pack­aged. He said these would be dis­patched on Mon­day to the 150 House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives di­vi­sions. The process is called the “dec­la­ra­tion vote ex­change”.

“So (a) very size­able task has to be done care­fully be­fore any count­ing be­gins,” Mr Diak said. Any count­ing to­day will be limited to the small num­bers of votes col­lected by AEC mo­bile teams. Mr Diak said the com­mis­sion had al­ready moved around all the bal­lots from the 7000 polling booths to more than 80 count­ing cen­tres.

There were 11.5 mil­lion bal­lots counted for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Satur­day. These were votes cast in polling places on elec­tion day and early votes. Sydney Morning Her­ald

Bill Shorten, the leader of the op­po­si­tion La­bor Party, which picked up sev­eral seats in Par­lia­ment, in Mel­bourne on Satur­day.

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