Relatively small administrative errors have seen two quality candidates knocked off the Yass Valley Council’s election ballot.

Coronavirus added another layer of complications to the nomination process after those who had already submitted their applications in September had to re-nominate for the delayed December elections.

A potential candidate for the Yass Valley Council, Fleur Flannery, can no longer stand in this election after her nomination was rejected due to a small technical error.

Fleur successfully submitted her nomination application in September but due to an admin error when she re-submitted in November, she’s unable to run for council for another three years.

“They accepted my first nomination and I just find it so hard that on a very technical note that they didn’t take this one.”

Potential council Adrienne Steward and her family

Similarly Adrienne Steward, another candidate for Yass Valley Council, had her nomination rejected due to an issue with a signature.

Adrienne said she still hasn’t been informed officially in writing why she was rejected but received a phone call from the Electoral Commission after she tried to fol- low up.

“I’m pretty disappointed I have to admit,” she said. “I was looking forward to at least giving it a go and hopefully getting voted in.

“But obviously that’s not going to happen now.”

Nominations closed at midday on Tuesday, November 9 but Adrienne didn’t find out her nomination had been rejected until an automated reply informed her at midnight.

Fleur also didn’t find out about her failed nomination until 8:45pm that night.

“I honestly felt as if I had been hit by a brick wall, I was so astonished,” she said. “I was absolutely shocked.”

After 22 phone calls and 11 emails, the Electoral Commission reportedly only spoke to Fleur directly just once to inform her that her name wasn’t on the ballot form.

Eventually, after involving solicitors she received a response through her lawyers. Fleur said she understands that they rejected her registration on a technical ground to do with authorisation of the statutory declaration – A written statement that the declarant signs and declares to be true in the presence of witnesses.

“I obviously wasn’t thorough enough in the way I checked it,” she said. “I do think it’s quite technical the way I was rejected but it is what it is.”

Adrienne said one of the forms required an authorised signature, but it wasn’t clear who was considered an authorised person on the form itself.

According to Adrienne the bottom of the form had an option for a signature from someone who had known her longer than 12 months or someone that had begun Adrienne’s identification documentation.

Adrienne had long-time friend and co-founder of Yass Business Mums, a group they started together, sign the form, but was informed it should have been signed by a qualified individual like a Justice of the Peace.

“It was a bit of my error as well as not very clear instructions,” Adrienne said.

She said she received feedback from the Electoral Commission highlighting that she should have also double checked the candidate handbook.

“That’s on me, I get that, I didn’t think to check there,” she said. “I’m happy to accept my mistake in that.”

Adrienne said she wasn’t the only one who had this issue and suggested there’s an issue with the process and their forms could be clearer.

“But it is what it is,” she said. “I’ve learnt my lesson for next time and I’m really dis- appointed.”

“I feel like I could have done really well in the role of a councillor, but it’s wasn’t meant to be obviously.”

Fleur said the nomination process itself wasn’t overly arduous or difficult it was just tedious.

“The first time [I nominated] I seemed to get that 100% correct,” she said. “On the second time, I’ve got that 99% correct with one error and I think that that was a pretty tricky proxy to be judged on that one thing.”

Unless Fleur goes down the path of a court injunction, there are no further steps she can take to get on the ballot she said.

“The forms had to be correct as at the time that they closed,” she said. “I don’t disagree with any of those things.”

“It is what it is but I’m very disappointed.”

But Fleur said she’s 100% standing in the next election in 2024 and plans to be an active member of the community in the meantime.

“It’s not going to be sour grapes or a one-shot thing,” she said. “I really want to use that time productively and fully.”

Adrienne is unsure if she will stand for council again but will reassess closer to the date. She said election day on December 4 will be a bittersweet day for her.

“I’ll be there voting but unfortunately, it won’t be my name that I’m ticking on the ballot.”

By Brianna O’Rourke