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Gregory PUP candidate's votes disappear

QUESTIONS RAISED: The ECQ website at 10am and at 2pm on Tuesday, showing the 210-vote discrepancy.
QUESTIONS RAISED: The ECQ website at 10am and at 2pm on Tuesday, showing the 210-vote discrepancy. Contributed

JUST as the intrigue of the state election appeared to be dying down in the seat of Gregory, Palmer United Party candidate Michael Linton-Helliar received a rude shock when he jumped on the Electoral Commission of Queensland website and found his vote tally had dropped from 2435 to 2225 between 10am and 2pm on Tuesday.

"I couldn't believe it," Mr Linton-Helliar said.

"I'd lost over 200 votes in a few hours."

He was initially alerted to the reduction by his wife, before checking to confirm it himself.

Naturally, Mr Linton-Helliar's first reaction was to contact the ECQ, but he found their response less than helpful.

"Initially I was told to contact the returning officer," he said.

"It's very difficult to get anyone from the ECQ to want to address it.

"Their lackadaisical approach to it is very concerning."

He was directed to several different people, before being told his number would be given to the returning officer who would call him.

But Mr Linton-Helliar was not hopeful of a speedy response.

Although understandably disappointed to have lost votes, his greater worry was the potential for similar discrepancies to affect the outcome of an election.

"I know I'm not going to win the seat, but it's exciting to know that you've got that many votes," he said.

"This is nothing about the fact that I didn't win the seat.

"If it's happened here it can happen anywhere.

"That amount of votes could swing the result… that's what I'm concerned about."

Mr Linton-Helliar said it was even more worrying that this was not the first time there had been an issue like this, comparing it to the lost Western Australian ballot papers in the 2013 federal election.

He was surprised the country's electoral commissions' internal processes were not failsafe.

"I'd have to question the competency of the ECQ," he said.

"We can't trust the results that are being obtained - are the results we're getting now real results?

"Voters need to be certain that the votes they cast are being apportioned to the right people."

He suggested there might need to be a change to the system.

"Maybe we need a bit of an investigation of the whole process," he said.


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