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Australia Record surge in postal vote applications for the Queensland election means it could be days before the result is clear

03:07  20 september  2020
03:07  20 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The ECQ has also received a record number of postal vote applications , with over 520,000 What this means is on March 28, you have the option to just vote for the candidates you know And brace yourself, the Queensland state election will be held in about eight months' time, on October 31. After election day , the ECQ will start the official vote count and progressively publish results on the

Queensland 's state election period does not officially start until October 6, when the government is Queenslanders who want to cast a postal vote for the October 31 state election will be able to Ms D'Ath said delays in returning applications were likely, " meaning anyone who does plan on using

a close up of text on a white background: Up to 600,000 postal vote applications could be lodged by election day. (ABC News: Rodney Reed) © Provided by ABC Health Up to 600,000 postal vote applications could be lodged by election day. (ABC News: Rodney Reed)

A record 92,000 Queenslanders applied for postal votes after the first two days they were made available for the October 31 state poll.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) opened the application process last Monday, in anticipation of higher demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is the first time ever that electors were able to apply for a postal vote before the official start of the election campaign.

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Local government elections and two state by- elections are still slated to go ahead, but the allow the timeframes for the receipt of postal vote applications to be extended for certain electors Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen said the new legislation was necessary. " It means that if there's further

Voting in the March 19 Queensland local government election and state referendum begins this week, as the first However, the election for the Lockyer Valley Regional Council Mayor and councillors has been Postal vote applications : Electoral Commission of Queensland website or call 1300 881 665.

Electoral commissioner Pat Vidgen said he expected as many as 600,000 postal vote applications before election day — a 65 per cent increase on the 2017 election.

"If that transpires into votes themselves, that's about 20 percent of the vote," Mr Vidgen said.

The ECQ is also expecting a similar surge in early voting.

In 2012, only 10 per cent of the Queensland electorate lodged their ballot at an early voting station.

At the last election, that figure was 26 per cent and during the local government elections in March the rate went up to 50 per cent.

The ECQ is planning for a similar turnout in next month's state election because of concerns about coronavirus.

"We're looking at an election period as opposed to an election day," Mr Vidgen said.

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This means that when someone votes for their preferred candidate, they’re voting in a state-level contest rather than a national one. Officials are already warning that we may have to wait longer - possibly days , even weeks - for the result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots.

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"The period will be an 11-day early voting period so the community can vote across Queensland in any early voting centre — there will be 200 across the state."

Early voting will be available every day from October 19 (except for Sunday October 25) with some polling places offering extended hours.

The ECQ expects only about 30 per cent of the total electorate will actually cast their vote on October 31, and this has implications for the way Labor and LNP will campaign.

"Political parties are almost going to have to have two peaks — one in the first week and one in the last week to pick up the tail-enders who mightn't be so engaged with politics," Griffith University political commentator Paul Williams said.

"So there's going to be a lot of sweeteners at the beginning and end of the campaign."

Changing voting patterns could also mean delays in counting.

The ECQ has to wait 10 days after the official polling day to receive all postal votes — and in closely fought seats these votes and their preference flows could make all the difference.

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Councils have reported applications for postal votes up by 60% in some areas, and with a new system of checking signatures and dates of birth against applications – and only 11 days The surge in postal votes has also raised concerns about electoral fraud, although the 50 allegations currently

However, the timing of this election means some school halls are already booked for nativity plays. Votes made with a tick or even a smiley face may be counted if the voter's choice is clear , but will be disqualified Constituencies will start to declare their results within the first few hours of the vote .

"Counting is impacted with postal voting," Mr Vidgen explained.

"In 2017, we had 11 per cent of the vote, or around 300,000 votes which were done through post, yet the final declaration after election day took 13 days."

"In fact, on day 12, half the seats were declared … so typically if we double that figures you can anticipate we can have similar time frames or even longer time frames this time."

This has the potential to complicate negotiations if neither the Labor nor LNP win a clear majority of at least 47 seats in the legislative assembly.

The LNP has to win nine more seats to secure a majority, while Labor can only afford to lose one seat before it is forced to rely on the cross benches to form government.

There are presently seven crossbenchers in the Queensland Parliament — three from Katter's Australian Party; one each from the Greens, North Queensland First and Pauline Hanson's One Nation; and one independent.

In the last election, minor parties attracted more than 30 per cent of the primary vote and their preferences could be crucial.

"Of course, it does depend on the closeness of the results, but certainly the commission is required by law to be mathematically sure of the result," Mr Vidgen said.

The electoral commissioner has advice for people who are impatient to find out who won.

"If they apply for a postal vote, when they receive their ballot, fill it in straight away and send it back straight away," he said.

"Or if you really want a quick result, show up at an early voting centre or on polling day and cast your vote on that day because those votes will be counted on election night."

This election will also be Queensland's first ever fixed term, increasing the next term of Parliament from three to a mandatory four years.

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Coronavirus and social distancing means more postal votes in the Queensland election on October 31 .
The Electoral Commission of Queensland says demand for postal voting has been high since applications opened and suggests it's worth considering all your options.Electoral Commission of Queensland's (ECQ) assistant electoral commissioner, Wade Lewis, said more than 300,000 people had already submitted postal vote applications since they opened on September 14.

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