COVID could delay results

COVID could delay results

The results of the East Gippsland Shire Council elections could be delayed because of COVID-19.
East Gippsland, like many other shires, has conducted its local government elections through a postal voting system for many years. “East Gippsland has been postal elections since at least 2000,” the Victorian Electoral Commission’s East Gippsland manager, Sharon Wood, confirmed.
“Voting is entirely the same as 2016.” Those that had required assistance with voting, or hadn’t received their ballot papers in the mail, had in the past been permitted to attend at the VEC’s office in Bairnsdale to receive help, but that won’t be permitted this time.
More than 41,300 voters are registered and required to participate in electing nine candidates to the East Gippsland Shire Council.
Ballot papers will begin arriving in the mail this week to households with voters expected to make their selection and return the papers by mail or at the VEC’s office in Service Street, Bairnsdale, by 6pm on October 23.
However, Ms Wood said the VEC will still accept votes by mail only up until midday October 30 “but we won’t be able to receive anything handed in”.
Ms Wood said the COVID overlay would delay results across the State.
However, she said the VEC was hopeful all elections would be declared by Friday, November 13.
She said the VEC was still working out how the results will be announced and if candidates in the election will be allowed to attend at the Bairnsdale offices to be notified of the result.
“The VEC is still working with the Health Department to come up with the guidelines required,” Ms Wood said.
“We have legislative restraints and guidelines that have to be worked through under the COVID overlay.”
Ms Wood said COVID-19 had also changed the way candidates had nominated.
Each of the 21 candidates had to book their appointment through the VEC, rather than just turning up to nominate.
The usual ballot draw, which has previously been a public event with all candidates in attendance, was also scrapped because of coronavirus.
Of the 21 candidates contesting the election, seven are women. The number of women who have nominated is up across the whole of Victoria.
In 2016, there were 39 nominations for the East Gippsland Shire Council elections, an unusually high number.
Ms Wood encouraged everyone, who is aged over 18, to vote in the forthcoming election.


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