The Australian Electoral Commissioner has apologised for the “outdated” system of counting votes using Roman numerals, admitting that the process is slowing the counting process considerably.
A number of seats remain in doubt today, with the AEC due to resume its count, focussing on postal and pre-poll ballot papers that have been received since Saturday. Using Roman numerals to count the votes, starting at I, then II, then III and so forth until the total is counted has caused the entire process to grind to a snail’s pace, and has considerably delayed the election result.
The Commissioner admits the system of using Roman numerals dates back to Federation. “Unfortunately, it’s in the Electoral Act, so we have to go by the book,” he told Broken News in a statement. “This is the way they’ve done it since the beginning.”
MCXVI, MCXVII, MCXVIII, MCXIX, MCXX, MCXXI, MCXXII…
One counting official spoken to by Broken News admitted it was very difficult to keep count of votes. “It’s really hard,” she told us on condition of anonymity. “Sometimes you don’t know whether you are up to MCXVI or MCXVII, and you have to start the whole bloody thing again.”
Broken News also understands that some of the younger members of the counting staff don’t understand the number system at all.
“I’ve seen those weird numbers on my Grandpa’s watch, but to be honest I have no idea what they mean,” a 19 year old AEC casual employee told Broken News. “I’ve been pretending to get it, but really I’m just shovelling the votes into random piles and hoping no one notices.”
Many candidates are becoming increasingly nervous as the count goes on. In the seat of Hindmarsh, the ALP’s Steve Georganas is ahead by DCXXIX votes (639), while in Forde, the ALP’s is CXLIX (149) votes ahead.
CLOSE SEATS INFOGRAPHIC
Forde, Des Hardman (ALP) leads by DCXXIX
Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas (ALP) leads by CXLIX
Chisholm, Julia Banks (Lib) leads by LXVI
Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis (Lib) leads by CDV
The Electoral Commissioner admits to Broken News that had they not used the Roman numerals counting system, the whole thing would have been “done and dusted” by 9pm on Saturday night.
“Let’s just finish it this time and see if we can’t get a computer or something to look after it next time,” he says.