Palmer Seeks to Block Election Count After Vote Mix-Up

Mining magnate Clive Palmer, who is vying for a seat in Australia’s lower house of parliament, sued the Australian Electoral Commission over a vote count in the district he is contesting.

Palmer today sought an injunction in Brisbane federal court to stop the AEC from changing results from two polling booths and to preserve existing records. While Justice John Dowsett rejected the application, the AEC promised it would keep the booth results as they are.

A sorting error occurred on election night in Fairfax, with about 750 votes published for the Buderim pre-poll voting center, which should have been recorded against the Coolum Beach pre-poll center, the AEC said in an e-mailed statement. The AEC said counting in Fairfax, where Palmer is leading by 209 votes, will continue after he had sought to stop it.

“It goes to the integrity of the election,” Palmer said today in a phone interview. “The AEC wanted to alter the evidence.”

The Palmer United Party, which the owner of Mineralogy Pty set up earlier this year, won 5.5 percent of the primary vote nationally and preliminary results indicate his party will gain one Senate seat as well. Since the election on Sept. 7, Palmer has criticized the counting process.

Palmer, who put the number of mixed-up votes at 768, said they all went to his opponent, which indicates someone attempted to tamper with the results. The AEC said the “anomaly” didn’t affect the relative position of the candidates.

“There is a proper, transparent and evidence based process for dealing with allegations of illegal practice,” the AEC said today in an e-mailed statement. Candidates or parties can challenge results at the High Court of Australia, the country’s top court, the commission said.

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