In-person voting will proceed during the September New South Wales local government elections, however regulations have been amended to ensure voters can remain COVID safe in the process.
This will include the introduction of iVote technology and the expansion of postal voting and pre-poll eligibility.
Postal voting will now be available to residents of nursing homes, retirement homes and hospitals, as well as those residents that are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The expansion of postal vote eligibility also includes anyone who reasonably believes that attending a polling place on election day will pose a risk to the health or safety of the person, or of another person, because of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Voters can only use the new electronic iVote platform if they live more than 20 kilometres from a polling place, are blind or have low vision, have a disability which would make it difficult to vote at a polling place or have literacy needs.
Voters can also use iVote on their phone, tablet or PC if they will be outside of their enrolled district on election day.
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott has welcomed the changes and says resident safety remains the number one priority for councils.
“I am confident we can meet this priority and still hold fair and transparent elections,” Cr Scott said.
“The new rules focus on ensuring COVID-safe voting, which gives every eligible member of the community an opportunity to elect the council of their choice.
“I have met with the NSW Electoral Commission and Office of Local Government this month to confirm councils’ commitment to safe, transparent and accessible elections.”
Cr Scott said it was crucial for people to know all the voting options available to them, as voting in local government elections in NSW is compulsory.
“Council elections are a celebration of democracy at a grassroots level and I am pleased the new electoral provisions recognise and support that process,” she said.
“It has always been our view that local government elections should be run in the same way as every other level of government.
“At our 2019 Annual Conference, councils supported the online iVote platform as an option to accomplish this.”
She said the amendments also provide scope for restrictions on campaign posters and handing out electoral materials where these restrictions are necessary for public health reasons.
Visit the NSW Electoral Commission website for official updates.