On Thursday 2 June 2022, Mr Cheng Fan was convicted and sentenced for a number of offences relating to a series of spam emails circulated during the 2020 Eden-Monaro by-election.
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said that the case marks Australia’s first successful prosecution of a person for breaching electoral laws that prohibit misleading or deceiving Australians about the act of casting a vote.
“Yesterday’s sentencing of Mr Fan demonstrates that those who seek to undermine the integrity of Australia’s electoral system will be brought to account,” Mr Rogers said.
“A result like this draws a line in the sand as it provides precedent for any similar misbehaviour in the future.”
Mr Fan’s sentence included a penalty for breaching section 329 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 by distributing matter that the court considered was likely to mislead or deceive an elector in the relation to the casting of a vote.
“This result is also a credit to the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce, to which the AEC referred this matter in 2020,” Mr Rogers said.
“The work of the Taskforce is one more reason Australians can be confident in the integrity of our elections.”
The Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce is constituted by relevant agencies across Federal Government, working together to provide information and advice to the Electoral Commissioner on matters that may compromise the real or perceived integrity of the federal election.
The Taskforce was first in place for the federal by-elections held in 2018 and again for the 2019 and 2022 Federal Elections. It also operated during the 2020 Eden-Monaro and Groom by-elections.