Authorities are still considering whether to fine those who failed to vote at the March council ­elections during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities are still considering whether to fine those who failed to vote at the March council ­elections during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Huge number of people who didn’t vote

AUTHORITIES are still considering whether to fine the hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders who failed to vote at the March council ­elections.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) is considering the "most appropriate response given the circumstances" after voters were expected to cast their vote at the local government poll in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The voter turnout for the election reached 77 per cent - slightly down from the 83 per cent recorded in 2016 - which means roughly more than 700,000 people did not cast their vote.

An ECQ spokeswoman confirmed they were currently reviewing the "apparent non-voter data" from the March 28 poll and that no fines had been issued "at this time".

"The onset of the pandemic during the election was unprecedented and the ECQ understands the community concern which existed for health and safety," she said.

Queenslanders were still required to vote at the council elections in March despite fears of coronavirus transmission. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez
Queenslanders were still required to vote at the council elections in March despite fears of coronavirus transmission. Picture: AAP Image/Albert Perez

 

"While voting is compulsory by law, the ECQ is analysing the cohort of people who did not vote and considering the most appropriate response given the circumstances.

"A decision will be made and communicated well before the State election."

The spokeswoman confirmed that penalties for not voting in a local government election ranged from a warning through to a fine.

"If ECQ does proceed to issuing a fine after communicating with an elector, the amount payable would be $133.45," she said.

It is understood some voters have already provided a reason to the ECQ about why they did not vote.

Ahead of the election, the ECQ extended voting times and introduced a range of measures in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus - including encouraging voters to bring their own pen and banning the handing out of how-to-vote cards.

Phone voting was also made available, while more than half a million people applied to vote by post.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said last month the Government was working with the ECQ to ensure "all options" were available so the looming state poll went ahead safely, but said its preference would be a stand-up ballot.

Originally published as Huge number of people who didn't vote



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