THE poll debacle that saw people denied a vote during the Council election due to the Electoral Commission’s failures loomed for a repeat at the State Election unless urgent action happened now, State MP Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said.
Ms Simpson said it was disgraceful that Sunshine Coast voters were coming forward telling of their frustration of trying to vote and not being able to register phone votes which were the only option left after postal voting deadlines passed.
“This debacle during the elections for Council has cost people their right to a vote. The ECQ has failed the people but the State Government also ignored warnings about pre-voting shortfalls and pressed ahead with the Council election on March 28 at the same time they were telling vulnerable people in other messaging to ‘stay home’ and ‘self isolate’.
“What a monumental stuff-up. And it could happen again at the State election.
“This absolutely needs a full investigation but there’s a looming problem for the State election with the threat of this happening again with people being denied a vote.
“We don’t know if the Premier will make people line up en masse and come out to vote at public places when the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a threat in our community,” Ms Simpson said.
Ms Simpson said full postal voting should be an option for people on the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere at the upcoming poll but she didn’t trust the ECQ’s ability to deliver this without plenty of lead-time. At the least, she said, there had to be a change to the rules to make pre-registration as a special postal voter available to everyone rather than a few.
“Normally people can pre-register as a special postal voter under certain criteria allowing them to be a postal voter at all elections without having to re-apply each time so it just happens automatically but those rules are narrow and need to change now to allow everyone who wants to pre-register, particularly the elderly. (This special postal voter category is different from applying separately each election)
“I want my constituents here to have a full-postal vote option that is safe, secure and robust so they are not robbed of their vote in October. Everyone is being told to stay at home at the moment due to COVID-19 and come October that most likely won’t have changed for many of the most vulnerable who still have a right to vote.
“However even if someone isn’t aged or physically frail, they also have a right to be safe and feel safe. If the election isn’t made a full postal vote, then people need to be able to pre-register now and not be stopped by the rules.”