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Thousands fail to make votes count

Candice Levey casts her vote at Woongarra State School. Thousands in Bundaberg didn’t even turn up.
Candice Levey casts her vote at Woongarra State School. Thousands in Bundaberg didn’t even turn up. Scottie Simmonds BUNELE

THE Electoral Commission of Queensland has come under heavy fire for its running of the local elections, with figures suggesting up to a third of Bundaberg electors did not vote on Saturday.

With the majority of the votes counted by yesterday afternoon, so far just 43,996 people of 62,291 on the electoral roll have had their say - leaving a staggering 18,295 votes unaccounted for.

While exact numbers will not be confirmed until the May 8 deadline for postal votes, historically these only make up a small percentage and are unlikely to have a significant impact on the final number.

Outgoing mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said the commission's running of the election left a lot to be desired.

"Prior to 2008, council ran their own elections much more efficiently and cost effectively," she said.

"This election will cost the region $460,000."

Ms Pyefinch said the commission "did a terrible job" of the elections in 2008 and had failed to improve.

"They have let the candidates and the voting public down," she said.

Local Government Association of Queensland spokesman Craig Johnstone said initial indications showed voting turnouts were low statewide.

Mr Johnstone blamed a lack of information from the commission and the state election for causing voter confusion.

"The election itself was not promoted well by the ECQ," he said.

"Voters in divisions where councillors returned unopposed were still obligated to vote for the mayoral candidate and the ECQ did not sufficiently explain this.

"In the lead-up, the public witnessed a very negative and bitter state campaign and the last thing they were ready for was another political campaign."

Leading mayoral candidates Mal Forman and Bill Trevor were largely unfazed by the low turnout.

"While it is compulsory to vote, we know from history people don't always do so," Mr Forman said. "The numbers are all relative."

Mr Trevor said it would be impossible to tell if the low turnout would have an impact on the result. The commission would not comment.

The rules

  • In Queensland it is compulsory to vote in local government elections
  • The fine from the ECQ is $100 with the amount reduced to $50 for prompt payment

Topics:  electoral commission of queensland, electorate, voters, voting


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