Lots of people are sharing this tweet about someone claiming to be an Australia Post employee tossing out “no” votes in the same-sex marriage survey. The tweet is not true.
As Australia Post were quick to clarify after it starting blowing up online: Twitter user Dan Nolan is not actually an employee of Australia Post and doesn't have access to the mail.
That didn't stop the tweet attracting the ire of Liberal National MP George Christensen who used it to accuse the “yes” campaign of stooping to “low tactics”.
The original picture is from a Facebook post where a user criticised the government for spending $ 122 million on the postal survey “where a torch can reveal the answer through the reply envelope it came with”.
“So any postal worker with a vendetta against the opposing side can go through and remove votes as they see fit,” the user wrote.
The Facebook post made its way to Reddit, where Dan Nolan picked it up and posted it to Twitter with the inflammatory caption.
A screenshot of Nolan's tweet has since been shared to Facebook by various pages opposed to same-sex marriage, including far-right nationalist group Reclaim Australia where it has been shared thousands of times.
BuzzFeed News has asked the Australian Federal Police if it received any complaints about Nolan.
But all of this online nonsense aside… the envelope trick in the photo is true.
Rigorous testing conducted on a supplied survey form by BuzzFeed News confirmed that, yes, you can see how someone voted if you shine a torch, or even a phone light, through the envelope.
Asked if Australia Post was doing anything to mitigate the risk of mail tampering in the survey, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News had conducted a review prior to the survey, and additional security measures would be in place as it proceeds.
“We are also working closely with the authorities to maintain the integrity of the mail network,” he said.
“It is a criminal offence to tamper with mail and we work closely and on an ongoing basis with authorities to prevent theft.”
The spokesperson pointed to provisions in the Crimes Act 1914, the Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995, and the Australian Postal Corporations Act 1989 that make it an offence to interfere with mail.
Australia Post referred a question on whether it was concerned by the see-through envelope specifically to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A spokesperson for the ABS told BuzzFeed News: “Regarding reports of people shining torches through survey envelopes, the ABS does not consider this to be a security or fraud concern.”
“The survey form has no visible identifying information such as a name or address. This ensures that anyone with access to a completed survey form is unable to identify the respondent. The ABS has used envelopes manufactured with a security lining printed on the inside.”
The spokesperson reiterated that tampering with mail is a serious offence, and reminded Australians to not include the instruction letter or any other material with personal information in the envelope to ensure their anonymity.