Voting Privately

April 28, 2013

privacy

This month I (along with many other lawyers) received a letter from a gentleman in WA seeking pro-bono assistance to take his case to the High Court. This particular gentleman’s “beef” is that the voting compartments used at federal elections provide insufficient privacy and don’t comply with sections 206 and 233 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. As a result he has, on several occasions refused to vote, been fined and then sought to appeal the fine in court. His most recent excursion into the courts is recorded in Horn v Australian Electoral Commission [2013] WASC 72. It is clear that judicial patience is being tested, although the judgment starts politely with:

“[1] Mr Dieter Horn, the appellant in this case, could never be accused of lacking consistency.  He has, over many years, tenaciously maintained the view that the polling booths provided at Federal elections do not comply with the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Cth)……[He] has adhered to his views about the polling booths despite adverse decisions of the Federal Court and this court.  He doggedly maintains he is right and the courts are wrong.”

There is then at [10] an extract from the 2010 Court of Appeal decision in Horn v Butcher (in which he tendered 3 voting compartments) where it was found that: “The appellant’s wrong view of the law affords no valid reason for not voting.  The appellant’s view about the statutory provisions is unsound, not well-founded, has no force, weight or cogency, lacks authority and is not sustainable in law.  In effect, the appellant makes ‘open challenge to the very essence of the enactment’ which Isaacs J in Judd said was not a valid reason“.

The judgment concludes with [42]-[43]: “…persistence in raising a legal argument that has been previously raised and ruled upon could constitute an abuse of process.  In my view that point has been reached.  

A stubborn refusal to accept the lawful judgment of the courts cannot be excused on the grounds of fidelity to one’s values.  Too much time and effort has been spent on an issue which has long ago been determined.  It is well nigh time that Mr Horn accepted the judgment of those whose job it is to judge“.

I think I will give the pro-bono High Court matter a miss…

Creative commons acknowledgement for the photograph.

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One Response to “Voting Privately”

  1. Shane Says:

    I will be on the lookout for the next instalment of DIY advocacy.


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