Tough rules for election day amid COVID-19
CANDIDATES have today been warned about Electoral Commission Queensland’s strict regulations ahead of tomorrow’s local elections amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In what is shaped to be an election like never before, ECQ has cracked down on everything from scrutineers to signage, even a candidate’s presence on voting day.
It comes after a Queensland health professional and various members of the community blasted the state’s decision to continue with elections during the unprecedented health pandemic.
Via correspondence the commission outlined a candidate’s one scrutineer will not be permitted in a polling booth during the preliminary count at Saturday’s election night.
They are, however, allowed to observe the official counting of votes set to occur on Sunday though the privilege for a scrutineer to once come and go no longer exists.
“This is to ensure we have a maximum number of staff to complete the task and still adhere to social distancing directives,” the correspondence read.
It continued that if no confirmation was received of a scrutineer’s presence, a team member counting the votes would be asked to leave the room, therefore delaying election results.
The tough new rules are in response to state and federal government restrictions surrounding social distancing.
Campaign signage was also ordered to be removed from within 100m of polling sites, instead only allowing it from 5am election morning – with a 6m clearance zone to ensure votes adhere to social distancing.
Candidates have also been banned from handing out materials, nor will they permitted within 100m of a voting sites on Saturday in a bid to kerb interactions between attendees.
In previous elections, candidates and their representatives hovered around waiting members of the public with campaign flyers in a bid to secure their last-minute vote.
Though many constituents are expected to turn out tomorrow to cast their vote, a significant uprise in postal voting has also been recorded – with 570,000 opting to forego the traditional method.
While ECQ faced backlash over its controversial decision to green light elections, it said the new measures were a clear intention to minimise the risk of infections spreading.