The Australian Electoral Commission has been hit by a fresh controversy.

The Australian Electoral Commission has been hit by a fresh controversy. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers

The Western Australian Senate re-election has been hit by a new controversy, with 75 pre-poll votes cast at a nursing home this week declared invalid.

The Australian Electoral Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that the incident was caused by a faulty ballot box used in mobile polling at the RAAFA Merriwa Estate aged care facility, north of Perth.

The mishap is a further embarassment for the AEC, which has been forced to hold a rerun of the WA Senate election this weekend after the disappearance of 1370 votes tainted the result of last year’s poll.

An investigation by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty identified numerous breakdowns in the handling and storage of ballots and also blamed "poor leadership". Former commissioner Ed Killesteyn resigned from the role in February in the wake of the scandal.

Acting Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has said staff were completing new training ahead of the re-election.

The commission said on Thursday that after the ballot box was identified as faulty, a temporary container was used but was later found not to comply with the Commonwealth electoral act as it had not been properly secured. 

The AEC said the affected residents would be given another opportunity to validly cast their vote.

“An AEC mobile polling team attended the residential aged care facility on Monday 31 March and identified that there was a problem with the construction of the ballot box in its possession,” the commission said.

“The team applied a temporary solution, however the container used was later found to be not fully secure in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

“The AEC has since obtained legal advice about this matter, and those affected voters are considered to have not voted in this election.

“Accordingly, the AEC is able to remedy this situation and protect the franchise of those voters by enabling them to validly cast their vote.”

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