Senator Scott Ludlam has been successful in his appeal to the AEC for a recount of the Senate vote in WA. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
More than 1.2 million votes for the Western Australian Senate will be recounted following an intervention by Electoral Commissioner Ed Killesteyn.
Mr Killesteyn ordered the recount on Thursday following appeals from Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and Australian Sports Party candidate Wayne Dropulich, both of whom missed out on election in the original count.
Sports Party candidate Wayne Dropulich, who narrowly missed out on a Senate seat. Photo: Philip Gostelow
Just 14 votes separated candidates at one crucial point in the distribution of preferences.
It will be the first Senate recount since above-the-line voting was introduced in 1984.
Senator Ludlam welcomed the decision.
Palmer United Senator-elect Zhenya Wang faces a recount. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
''We congratulate the AEC for doing what people across the Australian political spectrum have called for and consider reasonable,'' Senator Ludlam said in a statement.
''With such a marginal result, and a number of anomalies in some batches of the vote, this was the only sensible decision.''
Mr Dropulich said he was happy to be back in the race.
‘‘I am getting used to nervous waits, but this one I am happy to have,’’ he said.
‘‘We have not been given any more details, but it is looking like it could take a few weeks.
Mr Killesteyn's decision overrules a previous decision by the electoral officer for Western Australia, Peter Kramer, to refuse an earlier application for a recount.
He said ballot papers where voters had marked their ballot above the line would be recounted. This constituted more than 96 per cent of votes, or about 1.25 million of the 1.3 million formal votes.
Ballots considered informal would also be re-examined, Mr Killesteyn said.
Senator Ludlam said he was ''concerned'' that the Electoral Commission would not recount below-the-line votes - ballots on which voters had numbered every candidate in their order of preference.
Mr Killesteyn said he had sought an explanation of the matters raised in the appeals by Senator Ludlam and Mr Dropulich and had invited input from the two Senators-elect who may be affected by the recount, Labor Senator Louise Pratt and the Palmer United Party's Zhenya Wang.
''While closeness of a particular count in the process of distributing Senate preferences is not in itself a basis for a recount under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act), it does allow the Electoral Commissioner to direct a recount should there be appropriate grounds on appeal,'' Mr Killesteyn said in a statement.
''Having considered candidates' submissions and having further regard to the criticality of particular Senate candidate exclusion counts and the small margins involved in determining Senators’ elect, I have decided that there should be a recount of all formal Western Australian above-the-line ballots and informal ballots.
''I have concluded that the recount will be in the best interest of all candidates who contested the 2013 WA Senate election, and in the overall interest of the WA electorate's confidence in the outcome,'' Mr Killesteyn said.
Senator Ludlam had appealed the AEC's decision last Friday to refuse his request for a partial recount, saying the recount should be automatic for very close Senate contests just as it is for the House of Representatives.
"I think there's a question of natural justice here," Senator Ludlam had said.
The Greens candidate lost out when the Shooters and Fishers party claimed a 14-vote margin over the Australian Christians, at what was described as "a crucial choke point" in the count.
Given the way in which preferences flowed, Senator Ludlam would have needed only eight more votes to keep his seat.
Mr Dropulich had also requested a full recount after also narrowly failing to win a Senate seat off the back of preference deals.
The AEC initially said the requests did not identify any specific issues that would have warranted a recount.
"As a result, the requests have been denied," the commission said in a statement.
The commission did decide last Friday, however, to postpone the declaration of the WA Senate poll, in light of Senator Ludlam's appeal.
The original WA result gave the Palmer United Party its third senator – Perth businessman Zhenya Wang.
Labor's Louise Pratt has also been re-elected, alongside ALP factional leader Joe Bullock and Liberal senators David Johnston, Michaelia Cash and Linda Reynolds.