COVID protocols in place as election looms

There have been queues at the Woy Woy pre-poll venue all week

The Federal Election on May 21 will be like no other with COVID-19 protocols in place at polling booths and record numbers of residents electing to vote early at pre-poll booths or via postal votes.

As at May 18, more than 23,000 votes had already been cast for the seat of Robertson, which will be one of the seats most closely scrutinised over the weekend as tens of thousands more residents head for the major polling booths on Saturday.

Incumbent Liberal Member, Lucy Wicks, and Labor candidate, Gordon Reid, have been spotted at pre-poll booths throughout the week.

Many pundits are predicting the battle for Robertson will be close, with 11 candidates standing for the seat and preferences very likely to affect the final outcome.

Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, said that like every other frontline industry and service, the delivery of the election is being affected by COVID.

“We’re engaging and training more staff than ever before to deliver an election in challenging circumstances, which includes COVID safety measures and labour market shortages,” Rogers said.

On election day, polling places will once again be open from 8am to 6pm.

Dedicated hygiene officers will be regularly sanitising surfaces and social distancing will be in force with equipment spaced out, markers and other signage providing guidance and queue controlling staff offering support.

Staff will be wearing masks and other personal protective equipment as required.

Voters do not need to be vaccinated to attend a voting centre and campaign activities (including handing out how-to-vote cards) can occur, in line with local health directions and electoral laws.

Socially distanced queueing, venue capacity limits and required sanitising arrangements are likely slow down the voting process.

“Nobody likes to wait, and we work hard on minimising queues for Australian voters as much as possible,” Rogers said.

Terry Collins