Same-sex marriage survey: count watchers bound by lifetime secrecy

Same-sex marriage survey: count watchers bound by lifetime secrecy:

Observers tasked with maintaining the integrity of the same-sex marriage postal survey count are subject to a confidentiality agreement that bans them from ever speaking about it publicly.

Vote counting for Australia’s voluntary non-binding same-sex marriage postal survey is under way at a Fuji Xerox office in Moorebank in Sydney’s south-west.

But representatives from the yes and no campaigns who are observing the counting are powerless to challenge disputed survey responses, and face prosecution if they speak out about irregularities in the process.

Guardian Australia has obtained copies of the confidentiality deed that all observers are required to sign, as well as guidelines that spell out their role assuring “the integrity of the count”.

The deed stipulates that an observer “must not make any public comments” about the conduct of the survey until “after the Australian Bureau of Statistics has announced that the records it holds of responses to the survey have been destroyed”.

It states that any breach of the deed may “constitute a criminal offence under Commonwealth law”.

The ABS has said it will destroy survey material within 60 days of publishing the results, but there is no end date for the confidentiality agreement.

H/t reader kevin a.

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