Voters in Eden-Monaro are urged to think ahead and plan how they will cast their ballot in the 4 July by-election.
Early voting, or pre-polling, began yesterday (15 June) with 12 different locations, including Canberra, opening progressively.
The Australian Electoral Officer for New South Wales, Warwick Austin, said in the current COVID-19 pandemic it was more important than ever to consider the range of in-person and postal-voting options available.
“My message to voters is to carefully consider your personal circumstances and seek information from the AEC website early,” Mr Austin said.
While applications for postal votes can be lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) until 6:00 pm on Wednesday, 1 July, Mr Austin stressed it was important to apply early.
“If you need a postal vote, please don’t leave it to the last minute,” he said.
“For some locations, an application left until the last minute creates the risk that we just simply can’t get ballot papers to you, despite our best efforts.”
Early voting centres are at Bega, Belconnen, Canberra City, Cooma, Greenway, Jerrambomberra, Jindabyne, Merimbula, Narooma, Queanbeyan, Tumut and Yass.
Mr Austin said the AEC is also factoring in the rapidly changing COVID-19 environment into the provision of voting services and throughout the broader by-election process. He said the health and safety of Eden-Monaro voters had been at the forefront of by-election preparation.
“People who cast their vote in-person will notice a different voting experience to what they may have encountered in the past with a number of social distancing and hygiene measures to be implemented,” he said.
“For this by-election, we are implementing a range of safety measures, consistent with advice sought from government health authorities.
“This will include guidance for voters regarding appropriate social distancing and hygiene in the polling place. Hand sanitiser will be available and voting screens will be regularly cleaned by AEC staff,” he said.
Setting up in Queanbeyan ahead of #EdenMonaro early voting starting tomorrow. COVID-19 safety measures mean it will look a little different.
– safety measures explained : https://t.co/WsWbFwHf6i
— AEC ✏️ (@AusElectoralCom) June 14, 2020
The ballot draw for the by-election was also conducted last week, with Matthew Stadtmiller from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party drawing number one on the ballot paper.
Mr Stadtmiller’s home town of Harden is located 20 kilometres outside the north-west boundary of the electorate, which spans 41,617 square kilometres from the east coast to Yass and down to the Victorian border.
A record number of 14 candidates are standing for election in the seat left vacant by Mike Kelly, who resigned earlier this year for health reasons.
Positions on voting forms for the seat were decided at a draw conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission last Wednesday afternoon at Queanbeyan.
Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Fiona Kotvojs drew the last place on the ballot paper.
For more information about the Eden-Monaro by-election, including voting COVID-19 safety measures and support for voters with a disability, visit the AEC.
Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.