Federal political parties should not be able to fund campaign material during ACT elections to help local branches get around spending caps, the ACT Electoral Commission says.
The commission has also expressed concerns it would be seen as politically partisan when called on to scrutinise political advertising under new truth-in-advertising laws which will come into effect before the next election.
In its report into the 2020 election, the commission recommended expanding the definition of party grouping to include related political parties when calculating the spending limits on territory election campaigns.
The commission said the current rules meant federally elected members could act in a "concerted manner to benefit the electoral campaign" of an ACT party without affecting the spending cap.
"Under these conditions, it is possible for a political party to effectively extend its electoral expenditure cap to a significant extent by arranging for associated political entities from within the broader party to engage in the production and dissemination of electoral matter for an ACT election," the commission said.
The commission has also recommended setting up a separate body to oversee the territory's new truth in political advertising laws.
"The reputation of the commission, based inherently around neutrality and independence, would likely face unprecedented attacks; attacks that could ultimately have a serious impact on the community's perceptions of the ACT's democratic system," the report said.
In the report, tabled in the ACT's parliament on Friday, the commission also recommended permanent changes to allow ACT voters the chance to vote early without providing a reason.
But eligibility requirements should remain the same for postal votes, which continue to carry the highest risk of not being counted due to delays in them arriving.
"This move recognises that voting on election day is no longer the accepted practice for a significant proportion of the population, and that voting is now conducted over a period of several weeks. The move also recognises the convenience of service, demanded by the electorate, which in any case appears to be occurring by default," the commission said.
More than 76 per cent of voters cast their ballots before election day, up from 38.9 per cent in 2016.
The commission said changes should be made to prevent campaigners from receiving more public funding than they spent on the campaign.
The report noted the ACT Greens, Democratic Labour Party and independent candidate Fiona Carrick all received more public funding than they spent on the campaign.
The Greens spent $124,768 on the campaign and received $313,539 in public funding, which is calculated based on the number of votes for the party. Ms Carrick spent $13,693 and received $32,613.
The commission has also called for changes to the Electoral Act to require people authorising political campaign materials to be enrolled to vote on the Commonwealth roll and a minimum font size to be imposed for material authorisations.
"In reviewing material to ensure that the authorisation provisions were being met, it became apparent to Elections ACT that there was a need to ensure legitimacy of the first and last names of authorising officers through a review of the electoral roll," the report said.
But the commission will not recommend any changes to ban corflutes, saying an "anecdotal and informal analysis of social media, letters to the editor and public commentary" suggested public dissatisfaction with the signs had gone down.
"The commission remains cautious about imposing further restrictions on signs that could lead to time consuming and/or cumbersome methods of regulating electoral advertising signs," the report said.
Meanwhile, the territory's youngest voters continue to be the least represented on the electoral roll, with just 83.5 per cent of eligible 18 year olds thought to be enrolled for last year's election.
Almost 92 per cent of eligible 19 year olds were enrolled, while more than 99 per cent enrolment was recorded for each age group above 25.
"By comparison with all other Australian states and the Northern Territory, the ACT has tended to out-perform the other jurisdictions in enrolment participation rates. The rates displayed in 2020 continue this trend," the electoral commission's report said.
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