This document outlines the Electoral Integrity Framework used by the AEC. The Electoral Integrity Framework (the framework) outlines the key integrity principles that should underpin all AEC work in elections and enrolment in order to maintain high levels of electoral integrity.
The integrity of, and confidence in, Australia's electoral democracy is dependent on an electoral system which consistently operates with a high level of integrity. Integrity means consistently adhering to the provisions contained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act), following AEC policies and procedures, and administering an electoral system where eligible electors cast votes which are counted accurately and promptly.
The framework is focused on AEC processes and procedures and does not comment on the underlying integrity of the legislated systems of enrolment and elections in Australia's electoral system. The framework currently applies to enrolment and elections, and may, in time, apply to other areas of the AEC's work, such as funding and disclosure or industrial and commercial elections.
The Electoral Integrity Framework is a strategic approach to achieving operational electoral integrity under the AEC's values of electoral integrity through professionalism, quality and agility. It is a way for AEC staff working on elections and enrolment to ensure every task is consistent with electoral integrity, as every task matters.
The approach taken by the framework is to ensure clear principles of electoral integrity through professionalism, quality and agility, which will enable the AEC to re-establish its reputation for electoral integrity.
The framework explicitly acknowledges that the AEC must not only be capable and operate with quality and agility. It must be seen to be operating with high integrity, and by measuring indicators of electoral integrity, it will be able to demonstrate continuous improvement to all stakeholders. The substance of electoral integrity is critical, but perception is also important, and the AEC's diverse stakeholders will need reassurance that the agency is focused on this critical issue.
The Electoral Integrity Framework is intended for:
The Electoral Integrity Framework has three components.
The framework currently covers the AEC's work in enrolment and elections (Figure 1)
Figure 1: Components of the Electoral Integrity Framework
The four elements of electoral integrity are as follows:
The elements of electoral integrity are based explicitly on five elements of roll integrity that have previously been used internally to understand the state of the electoral Roll. These five elements were themselves based on the four elements of integrity used by the Australian National Audit Office (completeness, accuracy, validity and security) in its assessment of the integrity of the electoral roll (Table 1).1
|ANAO||Elements of roll integrity||Electoral Integrity Framework|
|Security||Processing correctness||Capability (Reliability)|
The elements apply across the AEC's business areas of enrolment and elections (Figure 2). They are reflected in the principles that underpin the AEC's work in enrolment and elections, and the indicators by which the AEC measures its performance. The principles and indicators that relate to each of the elements are presented in Table 2.
The "capability" element combines the "processing correctness" and "security" elements of electoral roll integrity to better reflect a general orientation towards 'every task matters' and operational compliance. These elements should be part of a minimum level of capability through which the AEC undertakes its work.
The principles operationalise the elements in the business areas of enrolment and elections. The principles explain how each of the elements applies to enrolment and elections, what the elements mean in these specific contexts, and represent what the AEC aspires to in terms of electoral integrity in each of these areas.
The list of principles should be viewed as evolving to meet the identified needs of the agency, rather than fixed in this document. The principles themselves do not define specific targets to be achieved, as there is no point at which the AEC should consider its integrity work complete and stop striving for integrity. However, the indicators, as discussed below, are measurements of how well the AEC is meeting its integrity aim, and may be associated with particular thresholds.
The indicators are measures of the AEC's success against each of the principles. The indicators reflect the fact that, to improve its performance in relation to electoral integrity, the AEC must be able to measure that performance.
Specific targets for indicators are outside the scope of this document. Reporting and reassessment schedules for indicators will be determined by the relevant business areas.
The lack of an indicator to measure a principle may reflect an unmonitored risk to the agency, and provides information on where AEC data collection processes could be improved. Proposed indicators for each principle are listed in Table 2, based on the data that might reasonably be measured. Indicators which also constitute agency KPIs are marked with an asterisk.
Where an indicator is not currently being actively measured, an opportunity exists to either re-examine data that is available to the AEC to determine whether it can be measured, or to consider additional data generating processes. Some principles may be difficult to measure directly, or may have multiple different indicators which address different aspects of the principle, reflecting the complexity of running an electoral system with high integrity.
Figure 2: Electoral Integrity Framework
|Enrolment||Accuracy||Enrolled at the correct address
Roll updated in a timely manner
|Enrolment accuracy (Sample Audit Fieldwork)
ABS population movements to Roll update rates
|Completeness||All eligible electors enrolled||Enrolment rate*|
|Entitlement||Only eligible people enrolled||Entitlement objections
Evidence of identity and citizenship checks passed
|Security||Data is kept secure||Incidents of breaches
Silent elector security
Appropriate policies in place
|Reliability||Correct processing||Enrolment Quality Assurance Program|
|Transparency||Roll available for inspection||Compliance with the Act
Roll access complaints
eRoll usage statistics
Decision reviews upheld
|Elections||Completeness||All enrolled electors vote||Turnout rate*|
|Accuracy||Votes reflect voter intention||Informality rate*
|Entitlement||Only enrolled people vote
Only one vote counted per voter
|Unaccounted for multiple marks
Multi-voter AFP referrals
|Security||Every vote is secret
All ballot papers remain live and secure
|Number of confirmed security incidents
Ballot paper reconciliation records
|Reliability||Votes counted correctly||Outcomes of recounts
Counting errors identified
Stakeholder perceptions of count reliability
|Transparency||All election processes open for scrutiny
Integrity issues publically reported
|Number/impact of integrity issues reported|
In addition to giving the AEC a language to discuss how the AEC understands and manages electoral integrity in elections and enrolment, the framework serves two main functions:
Many of the policies and procedures used by the AEC have some potential impact on electoral integrity. The elements and principles of the framework provide a structure for analysing the specific electoral integrity implications in a systematic way for both the development of new policies and procedures and the analysis of existing ones.
In many cases the policy or procedure will have some impact on more than one of the principles, and not necessarily in the same direction. An enrolment policy that applies stricter eligibility testing on new enrolments may be beneficial from the perspective of the "enrolled at the correct address" principle, but may affect the "roll updated in a timely manner" principle.
This form of integrity analysis will allow the AEC to make an informed judgement of policy and procedure in relation to electoral integrity.
Without consistent and ongoing measurement of the different aspects of electoral integrity the AEC has no way of knowing whether a commitment to integrity translates into an actual improvement in electoral integrity. Measurement of electoral integrity and publication of performance against the electoral integrity indicators allows the AEC to be held accountable to its stakeholders.
Some areas of electoral integrity are inherently difficult to measure and potentially ambiguous. For example, more identified cases of enrolment fraud could be because there are actually more of them, or because the AEC is getting better at detecting them. However, this should be taken as an impetus to improve data collection and measurement.
Electoral integrity principles that are not being actively measured present a high risk to the AEC and should inform data collection and evaluation strategies to address any gaps. A potential consequence of not having appropriate indicators is that electoral integrity violations may come to the attention of the public or media before they come to the attention of the AEC, leading to considerable reputational damage.
The Electoral Integrity Framework is designed to sit alongside the AEC's new values, and existing fraud control, risk management and assurance processes.
The AEC's values inform all AEC work, including the framework. The framework is one of the ways in which the AEC will achieve and demonstrate professionalism, quality and agility and track its continuous improvement in relation to electoral integrity.
The Fraud Control Plan remains the mechanism for dealing with referred allegations of fraud and internally identified cases of electoral fraud which occurs through the violation of electoral legislation, and therefore the electoral integrity principles. Other non-criminal violations should be addressed through existing processes where possible, such as enrolment objections or non-voter processing.
Electoral integrity issues and their implications should be reflected in the appropriate risk management and strategic plans. The Electoral Integrity Framework should be used as a way of examining the potential electoral integrity issues that might impact business areas and inform the risk mitigation plans. Potential electoral integrity issues provide clear indication to the agency where additional data collection is needed in order to adequately monitor its performance against these principles.