With local government elections happening across Victoria tomorrow, the Greens are once again being criticised for their “how to vote” preference guides and accused of running dummy candidates.

Former Labor Party candidate for Darebin Council Brian Sanaghan has lodged a complaint with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) because he believes the Greens’ tactic in Darebin –where some candidates are asking voters to preference other Greens candidates ahead of themselves — is undemocratic.

“I believe that the parties are engaged in electoral fraud by running endorsed dummy candidates,” he told Crikey.

Sanaghan, who was voted onto Darebin Council in 1977 but controversially stood down after refusing to renew his pledge allegiance to the Queen, is running for council again for the first time in 36 years, this time as an independent.

Of the nine Greens candidates running in the Darebin election, five are asking voters to not preference them as No. 1 on the ballot paper.

Candidate Tom Hannan is asking voters to place him third, behind two other Greens candidates who the party believe have a stronger chance of winning.

He told The Northcote Leader that this was a selfless move designed to benefit the party as a whole.

“We’re running as a party, we’re not running as a group of individualists,” he said.

Darebin Greens candidate Kim le Cerf told Crikey that the Greens’ constitution asked that candidates not run against each other.

“We put greater resources behind lead candidates, and the other candidates exist so that voters have the option of electing an entirely Greens council if they want to,” she said.

Sanaghan says it’s not on.

“Local government has been systematically rorted by members of political parties wishing to stand for council, not motivated by the honour of public service, but for their own self-interest. It is why the third tier of government, the level of government closest to the people, is in crisis,” he told Crikey.

Mike Lagastes of the VEC says it is certainly not common for candidates to direct voters to vote for someone else.

The Greens have the same “how to vote” preference system across other local government councils, such as Moreland.

Lagastas says the candidates are able to tell voters to preference whoever they want as long as it is not misleading or deceptive.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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