Protecting the integrity of Australia’s electoral processes is critical to maintaining public trust in Australia's democratic processes.
In the context of the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce (the Taskforce), references to electoral integrity relate to the assistance provided by Taskforce agencies that help give assurance to the Australian Electoral Commissioner that the electoral event is unaffected by interference. For the purposes of the Taskforce, interference is characterised as an action intended to affect or disrupt electoral processes. The Taskforce is not involved in the delivery of the election and does not have any role in other elements of electoral integrity such as electoral processes, policies, procedures or administrative or regulatory decisions.
Potential threats to electoral integrity can come in the form of cyber or physical security incidents, misinformation or disinformation campaigns, and through perceived or actual interference in electoral processes.
Public trust in the integrity of elections can be undermined by the realisation or perceived realisation of such threats. The Taskforce ensures that information about these threats is efficiently referred to the relevant agencies and facilitates cooperation and coordination between these agencies enabling them to work together to take any appropriate action.
The Taskforce is made up of relevant agencies across federal government, working together to provide information and advice to the Electoral Commissioner on matters that may compromise the real or perceived integrity of the federal election.
The following agencies are members of the Taskforce and the Taskforce Board:
The Taskforce is supported by members of the National Intelligence Community as required.
The Taskforce functions at an operational level and is overseen by a Board. The Board is co-chaired by the Australian Electoral Commission and the Department of Finance. At the operational level the Taskforce is chaired by the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Taskforce Board is an ongoing collaboration which, in consultation with the Australian Electoral Commissioner, will engage the operational level of the Taskforce at an appropriate time ahead of the federal election period.
Taskforce members will then convene to prepare for responding to threats to the integrity of the electoral process.
The Taskforce co-locates operations once the federal election is announced.
Members are stood down following the return of Writs or when otherwise determined by the Electoral Commissioner and approved by the Taskforce Board.
The Taskforce may also be stood up for State or Territory elections.
The Taskforce provides a mechanism for sharing information between relevant agencies on potential threats to electoral integrity such as disinformation campaigns, foreign interference and cyber intrusions. For more information on these potential threats:
The Taskforce is responsible for assessing, understanding and mitigating these risks and, if required, providing advice to the Electoral Commissioner on how they can best be managed.
Each member agency works within their existing remit to provide this service, while maintaining strict political neutrality.
As part of preparations for the 2022 federal election, the Taskforce is working with online media platforms to ensure strategies are in place to combat the dissemination of disinformation about the electoral process online, and to address breaches of relevant Commonwealth legislation.
Protecting the integrity of Australia’s electoral processes is critical to maintaining public trust in Australia's democratic processes. In turn, public trust in the legitimacy and integrity of these electoral processes is essential to the effective functioning of our democracy.
In an environment that is constantly changing, with a growing proliferation of threats including disinformation, foreign interference and cyber and physical incidents, the Taskforce exists to protect and preserve Australia’s electoral integrity, strengthening public trust and enhancing the effectiveness of our democratic systems.
Taskforce agencies (and others as required) work together to detect and respond to any malign information activity occurring during electoral periods.
Upon being made aware of a potential threat to the integrity of an election, the Taskforce uses a referral process to ensure that information is passed to the relevant agency to consider appropriate action. Depending on the specifics of the incident, the Taskforce may work with the relevant agency or agencies to coordinate an appropriate response.
Electoral laws require electoral communication to be authorised. The key objective of the authorisation requirements is to allow voters to know who is communicating about an electoral matter.
Each election the AEC runs an advertising campaign branded ‘Stop and Consider’ encouraging voters to check the source of the material they see or hear.
The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme strengthens the integrity of our democracy and elections by providing transparency to the public about the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia's government and political process.
Broadly speaking, any person is required to register if:
In addition, if a person is communicating information or material to the public or a group with a view to influencing their views – for example in relation to an election – and does this on behalf of a foreign principal, then their communication must include a disclosure about the identity of the foreign principal.
During the federal election period, activities must be registered within seven days. Registrations can be viewed on the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Public Register.