An incident where the election manager in charge of the ballot draw for the state election seat of Orange put his hand into his pocket just before drawing the first candidate's name has been cleared by the NSW Electoral Commission.
Election manager Ross Baker said he had notified the commission after people began commenting on social media while looking at a video of Thursday's ballot draw on the Central Western Daily's Facebook page .
The draw determined the order of the candidates on the voting slip.
VIDEO: The controversial ballot draw footage ...
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said the incident had been reviewed.
"The ballot draw undertaken by the Electoral Commission in Orange was conducted properly," he said.
"The NSW Electoral Commissioner has reviewed the conduct of the ballot draw and is confident the allegations are without merit.
"No additional pieces of paper were added to that box and none were drawn out. All nine candidates’ names were drawn out in the clear canisters, one by one. The box was empty at the end of the draw."
Mr Baker defended his actions saying he was searching for a thimble in his pocket to help him to remove each piece of paper containing a candidate's name from each of the nine plastic containers that had been placed in the box for the draw.
"I reached into my pocket for the thimble because that's where I would keep it," he said.
"I was looking for the thimble, I knew I would need it," he said.
However, Mr Baker later found the thimble on the table after he had pulled out the first plastic container.
I can assure you there was definitely nothing sinister in what I did.Ross Baker, Election manager
"I didn't see that on the table, I'd been watching the box," he said.
The video shows Mr Baker placing his right hand in his pocket and rustling around in his pocket for a few seconds.
He is then seen to take his hand out and place into the ballot box, which was held by an assistant, to draw out the first canister containing a candidate's name.
He then unscrews the canister, finds his thimble on the table and extracts the piece of paper from the first canister.
Mr Baker has been a returning officer in charge of elections, including those in Orange, for many years.
"I can assure you there was definitely nothing sinister in what I did. I have no political aspirations whatsoever," Mr Baker said.
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