A swathe of Shellharbour residents could be forced back to the polls amid concerns the failure of the state's online voting system at the December local government elections compromised the result in one of the city's wards.
The NSW Electoral Commission has launched legal action in the Supreme Court seeking a ruling on the validity of results in three local government area elections - Kempsey, Singleton and Ward A in Shellharbour - after the iVote system crashed on election day, leaving thousands of people unable to cast their vote.
The commission said at the time almost triple the number of people had registered to vote online compared to previous elections.
However, court documents said NSW Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt subsequently ordered an investigation into the impact of the crash on voting results.
The analysis revealed anomalies detected in the three areas were significant enough to call into question their results.
In Shellharbour, independent candidate Kellie Marsh and Labor candidate Maree Edwards were declared victors in Ward A, however the pair is facing the prospect of having their election declared void and returning to the polls.
Both women said they were disappointed the commission had launched the court action, which could see residents forced to bear the cost if a new election was required.
"I'm quite disappointed on behalf of the community and the council," Cr Marsh said.
"We're in the middle of a pandemic, the community has already been through so much over last few years, so for Ward A to potentially have to go through another election through no fault of the candidates or the council, is absolutely absurd."
Cr Edwards said the community should not be punished for the iVote system failing to deliver.
"We're literally being punished for something they [the commission] didn't deliver," she said.
In an affidavit presented in court, the NSW Electoral Commission's executive director of elections, Simon Kwok, said the iVote system was first used in the state government elections in 2011, but only utilised at a local government level for the first time in December.
The case will return to the Supreme Court in February.
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