Appendix: Terms of reference for our review

General Election 2023: Independent review of counting errors.

Review of quality assurance processes for Vote Count in 2023 General Election

The Electoral Commission asked me to undertake a review of quality assurance processes relating to the vote count in the 2023 General Election. I have agreed to undertake this work and will independently report my findings.


Following the publication of the official results of the general election on 3 November 2023, the Electoral Commission became aware of issues relating to the counting of votes. Subsequent investigation found that three voting places had misallocated party votes to the wrong parties during data entry, another 15 voting places had similar errors for candidate votes, one electorate had special votes entered incorrectly, five voting places had correctly entered voting data, but for the wrong days, and one electorate had missed counting the votes in a ballot box during the official count.

Although none of these errors changed the overall (or electorate level) result, nor leading candidates, the Commission had expected its quality assurance processes to have identified and corrected those errors before the official count was completed. Amended official results were published on 9 November 2023.

Outline of the work

The Board of the Electoral Commission is seeking an independent review to assess the effectiveness of current quality assurance processes for counting votes and to recommend any improvements needed. We will do this by reviewing the quality assurance policies, processes and measures relating to the errors that have been identified when counting the vote.

The review will also consider any improvements that could be made to ensure the integrity of the vote count and make recommendations to improve the integrity of the counting process. As I have indicated, I intend to independently report on my findings but anticipate that the work will inform the Electoral Commission's report on the General Election to the Minister of Justice under section 8 of the Electoral Act 1993.

My review will:

  • Consider the 22 errors that the Commission has already identified; and
  • Examine:
    • why those errors occurred;
    • what quality assurance processes or controls relate to those errors;
    • whether the design of those processes or controls is effective;
    • whether the operation or implementation of those controls is effective; and
    • what the Commission did once those errors came to light; and
  • make observations about improvements that could be made to those quality assurance processes and any other observations about improvement that arise from our work.

How we will carry out this work

We anticipate the work will include:

  • reviewing the processes and manuals used by the Commission;
  • considering any additional relevant documentation;
  • interviewing Commission staff and those involved in the eight electorates where the errors occurred (which might involve travel to those electorates);
  • assessing the results of that work and preparing a draft report;
  • providing the Commission an opportunity to comment on the report and considering those comments; and
  • publishing the report.

As discussed with you, we intend to publish our final report and anticipate that will also involve tabling in Parliament.

We will undertake the work under section 17 of the Public Audit Act 2001 which allows the Auditor-General, with the agreement of a public entity, to perform any services of a kind that it is reasonable and proper for an auditor to perform.