Electronic vote rigging and Voice-by-legislation claims prove baseless

Electronic vote rigging and Voice-by-legislation claims prove baseless

What was claimed

The verdict

If the “dominion voting system” doesn't rig the Yes vote in the Voice referendum, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will “just pass it anyway” through legislation.

False. Electronic voting has never been used in Australia and will not be used in the Voice referendum, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not declared he will legislate the Voice if the referendum fails.

By Caitlin Cefai

A Facebook post claims that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has declared that “if Australians dare to vote no” in the referendum for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, “he will simply pass it” through legislation.

The post also claims “dominion voting systems” will be used to “rig” the referendum.

Both claims are wrong, but the post is spreading widely on several social media platforms.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese headshot in Facebook post with The Age masthead and text.

The Facebook post is an edited version of an initial Tweet from January 18. Four months later it appeared on Instagram and then TikTok where it has so far amassed more than 8000 views.

Finally, in June it was shared on Facebook group ‘Boycott the Referendum on Voice to Parliament’, which has more than 1800 members. There it included the additional claim about “Dominion Voting Systems” rigging the referendum.

FactLab has found the initial Tweet and its reproductions on other social media platforms  have garnered a total of more than 28,000 views, more than 1000 likes, and has been shared more than 150 times.


Will the Voice be legislated if Australia votes No?

The image posted on the Facebook group shows The Age newspaper masthead and an image of Mr Albanese, with the accompanying sentence: “He declares that if Australians dare to vote “no” at the upcoming referendum for an Indigenous Voice to parliament, he will simply legislate the Voice anyway.”

Earlier this year The Age published an article headlined “Albanese keeps door open to legislating Voice if the referendum fails”.

It reported that when questioned in interviews with Chris Kenny on Sky News and Ben Fordham on 2GB in January, Mr Albanese sidestepped questions on whether he intended to legislate the Voice if the referendum was lost. 

The report said Mr Albanese rejected assertions that he would be ignoring the will of voters if the government proceeded to legislate the body in the wake of a failed national vote.

In the interview with Sky News, when asked directly whether he would legislate the Voice should a No vote prove victorious at the referendum, Mr Albanese said that he was not “leading with a position that assumes a loss of a referendum”, but he steered clear of a definitive answer on either broadcast.

However, he did say, “If Australians say no, then there will be no constitutional change.”

Since January when the claim was made, Mr Albanese has not expressed any view on whether he will legislate the Voice should the referendum fail. 


Will electronic voting be used for the referendum?

The Facebook post also claims: “So if the “dominion voting system” doesn’t rig the vote we’ll just pass it anyway !!!”. 

Dominion Voting Systems is a North American company that provides electronic voting systems which were used in 28 American states in the 2020 US presidential election. In April this year, Fox News settled a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion for $A1.17 billion following false claims amplified by the network that the voting machines were used to rig the election — claims that were first made by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

Electronic voting has not been used in Australian elections and will not be used in the Voice referendum, according to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).  

A spokesperson for the AEC told FactLab in an email that electronic voting is not used in Australia, with exceptions for the visually impaired, who can access telephone voting.

“The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 does not provide for electronic voting machines to be used,” the spokesperson said. “The referendum will be conducted utilising a combination of in-person and postal voting, with telephone voting the only exception and only for people who are blind or have low vision. In all forms of voting for the referendum, hardcopy ballot papers will be used.”

The referendum for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament is expected to be held between October and December this year. Australians will vote on whether to change the constitution to establish the Voice to advise the parliament and government on matters relating to Indigenous people. 

The legislation to establish the referendum passed through the lower house on May 31, and was approved by the Senate on June 19. No date has been set for the referendum but it must now be held in two to six months.


The verdict

False. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has not “declared” that he will legislate the Voice should a No vote prevail. He has neither confirmed nor rejected the move. The additional claim that electronic voting will be used to rig a Yes vote in the referendum is also false. Electronic voting systems are not used in Australia.

19 June 2023


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