Gold Coasters are being warned they won’t be able to use COVID-19 as an excuse for not voting in the upcoming state election.
The election is set to take place on October 31, with thousands of Queenslanders to head to polling booths across the state to cast their vote.
However, it’s been revealed today that postal voting for the election will open extra early, to ensure people who may not want to vote in person can still have their say.
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“The ECQ is working to ensure Queensland electors have every opportunity to vote for their representative in the next Parliament,” Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen said.
“Usually postal vote applications open with the issue of the writ, which begins the election period.
“However, with COVID-19 still a factor, we anticipate strong interest in postal voting just as we saw in March’s local government elections where around 570,000 electors applied.”
He said postal vote applications for the state election will open on Monday 14 September and close on Friday 16 October.
“While electors can apply for a postal vote on the ECQ website or by phoning the ECQ’s call centre from Monday 14 September, we can’t mail the ballot papers until after candidate nominations close in mid-October,” Mr Vidgen said.
“We remind electors who applied for a postal vote in March and want to postal vote in October, they need to apply again.”
In order to make voting a more streamlined and safe process, the Electoral Commission Queensland revealed it is also planning an election period, which will include two Saturday’s for Queenslanders to vote.
“We are planning for an election period with two weeks of extended early voting days and hours, including voting on Saturday 24 October as well as election day voting between 8am and 6pm on Saturday 31 October,” Mr Vidgen said.
“To ensure voting in person can be as streamlined as possible, we ask electors to plan the way they’ll have their say.”
The ECQ said that means Queenslanders choosing where and when they’ll vote, staying 1.5 metres apart, using hand sanitiser and bringing their own pen or pencil.
Special postal voting arrangements are also being made for residents of certain aged care facilities which would usually receive a mobile polling service.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions and to protect vulnerable residents, the ECQ is unable to provide this service for this election,” Mr Vidgen said.
“However, the ECQ will streamline the postal vote process for these facilities, to make sure it is easy for residents to vote by post if that is their preference.”
Around 30,000 first time non-voters who didn’t vote in the March council election and Currumbin by-election were spared punishment, however Queenslanders are being warned that won’t be the case again.
“In recognition of the unprecedented circumstances of delivering the elections during an unfolding global pandemic, first-time non-voters will not be fined or receive a warning from the ECQ,” Mr Vidgen said in a statement last month.
“However, we remind electors that voting is compulsory and, with expanded voting options for the October State general election, concerns over COVID-19 won’t be considered a valid reason for not voting.”