More than 500 early voting centres will be in operation across Australia during a two-week early voting period that starts on Monday.
The Australian Electoral Commission is today urging voters to plan their vote with Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers outlining the range of COVID-19 safety measures in place.
“Australian elections are in-person events – once every three years the country comes together in a transparent and secure environment to have their say,” Mr Rogers said.
“If you can vote on election day then that’s what you should do. However, if your circumstances might prevent you from doing that then you need to think about the early voting options available, and vote according to your circumstances.”
“Australians have been living with COVID for more than two years now. For most people you’re visiting the shops regularly, attending events or taking public transport – voting centres will have more protections in place than most areas of society.”
On election day, polling places will once again be open from 8am to 6pm.
To allow people to assess and cater to their circumstances in the COVID environment, a number of early voting centres will be offering extended hours. Voting centre locations, their opening days and hours are available on the AEC website
Dedicated AEC hygiene officers will be regularly sanitising surfaces and pencils at all AEC early voting centres. Social distancing will be in force with equipment spaced out, markers and other signage providing guidance and queue controlling staff offering support.
AEC 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 will undoubtedly slow down the voting process.
“Nobody likes to wait, and we work hard on minimising queues for Australian voters as much as possible,” Mr Rogers said.
“The fact is that when you run an in-person process to the scale of a federal election where people effectively choose when and where they attend, and then you add COVID safety on top, you simply cannot prevent all queues.”
Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers also took the opportunity today to remind voters that AEC polling officials are doing a great democratic service that deserves respect.
“We employ more than 100,000 everyday Australians – parents, grandparents, neighbours, work colleagues – who do an important job for Australian democracy.”
“We simply ask that Australians be patient while waiting to cast their vote and maybe give our staff a smile and a thank you on the way through.”
“Not everyone will be happy if there is a queue or agree with the COVID safety measures in place, but our temporary staff are simply carrying out instructions and doing their job to the best of their ability.”