UPDATE: Following the distribution of preferences for Ripon yesterday, and noting the final margin of 31 votes, in favour of Labor’s Sarah De Santis, the VEC has determined to conduct further scrutiny of first preference ballot papers and informal ballot papers this afternoon.
“In consultation with the Election Manager, and given the close scrutiny and attention given to the count during the rechecking process and the preference distribution yesterday, this is an appropriate course of action,” Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately AM, said
“Given the margin of 31 votes, and to assure candidates that all ballot papers have been examined at least three times, a further check of first preference ballot papers and informal ballot papers will be conducted today.”
As first preference ballot papers for the two leading candidates were not further examined during the preference distribution yesterday, they are the only ballot papers that have been checked twice, rather than three times.
The VEC is also considering a request for a recount in Ripon.
“I anticipate that the further ballot paper checks will be completed today or early tomorrow morning. Any future action will be subject to the outcome of today’s further scrutiny,” Mr Gately said.
10.30 am Wednesday: After almost two weeks of counting votes, Labor’s Sarah De Santis is ahead in the race for Ripon by just 31 votes after the final distribution of preferences, making her the provisional member.
The Victorian Electoral Commission completed distribution of preferences late yesterday, with Ms De Santis, on 20,030 votes, over taking incumbent Liberal member Louise Staley on 19,999 votes — just 0.08 percent the difference.
The race for Ripon has been tight since counting of votes began, with the margin thinning between the two major parties to just 10 votes at stages.
While the VEC is yet to formally declare the seat, according to Ms De Santis, who spoke to the ABC earlier this morning, the rechecking of votes has been completed and there is now an opportunity for Ms Staley to call for a recount of votes, but it will be at the discretion of the VEC.