The Australian Bureau of Statistics made a major faux-pas by printing ‘BUMSEX’ on the barcode of a postal vote card that they issued for the Australian plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
One Twitter user posted a photo of the offensive phrase ‘BUMSEX’ on their voting card, declaring “@ABSStats I don’t think you guys are taking this thing seriously”.
The tweet has been liked over 2,000 times and retweeted almost a thousand times at the time of publishing.
— Jess Wheeler (@wheelswordsmith) September 16, 2017
Deputy statistician for the ABS, Jonathan Palmer, has shared an official response in which it apologised, indicating that the public body neglected to proof the voting cards for offensive words and phrases.
“The ABS acknowledges that in issuing 16 million barcodes it did not check and remove words and phrases that may be offensive.
“The ABS apologises to the survey recipient and will issue a new form if requested.
“The codes were issued using an algorithm generating more than two quintillion combinations of letters and numbers in order to generate highly secure barcodes.
“The ABS will check newly issues [sic] barcodes.”
“Anyone with any concern about their barcode should contact the ABS on its Information Line or website for a new one.”
As many as 15 million people will be voting in the plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Recipients of the voting cards have been asked to return them by October 27, however the final result unknown until mid-November.
Palmer also cautioned against sharing the unique barcode publicly which could compromise the card holder’s privacy and security.
A quintillion combinations of letters does sound like an awful lot, but Australians do have a quirky sense of humour!
Do you think that this was a legitimate, random error or does it seem to strange of a coincidence to believe? Let us know in the comments below.
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