THE future of the recently elected Singleton Council rests with the NSW Supreme Court after it heard last week that 55 votes unable to be lodged with the electronic iVote system may have led to "a different outcome" if counted.
The Supreme Court action was brought by the NSW Electoral Commissioner after the iVote system "crashed" during council elections in December.
The court case examines results for Kempsey Shire Council and one of four wards in Shellharbour City Council as well as Singleton.
IN THE NEWS:
Singleton Council general manager Jason Linnane attended the hearing on Tuesday and said case was restricted to the election of the nine councillors, not the separate ballot for mayor won by Sue Moore.
Singleton councillor Val Scott said yesterday that she was the ninth councillor elected, three votes ahead of candidate Sarah Johnstone, owner of the retail outlet Singleton Books Etc.
Justice Robert Beech-Jones reserved his decision on Wednesday and Mr Linnane said the court was looking at what discretion it had in the case.
"This could be no new election, a whole new election of councillors or a new election of a smaller number of councillors," Mr Linnane said.
The electoral commissioner said 2467 Singleton voters used iVote, and 55 iVote ballots "failed".
Kempsey had 34 failures and Shellharbour's A-ward had 54, apparently because of polling-day website load.
The commissioner said the affected councillors were named as defendants in the case but stressed they had done nothing wrong.
Mr Linnane, Cr Scott and Ms Johnstone all separately said they were concerned about "voter fatigue" and that a court verdict to return to the polls would be disruptive.
The December count showed 14,341 ballots cast, including 1596 informal votes, but more than 17,000 eligible to vote.
Cr Scott said she was an ALP member but had run under her own name in December.
Ms Johnstone said she had been in third position on a country Labor ticket that elected Tony Jarrett, now deputy mayor.
She said that after preferences she finished ahead of the second candidate on the ticket, Andrew Clifton, and "three votes behind" Cr Scott.
Ms Johnstone said she was annoyed "for five minutes" when she learned of the iVote problems but she had faith in Cr Scott and did not formally complain.
Cr Scott said the December elections were delayed with incoming councils on a shortened term until September 2024.
The Australian Electoral Commission said Commonwealth law did not allow electronic voting.
It would not be used at the approaching federal election.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.