Friday 23 October 2020
For immediate release
Voters across Victoria have turned out strongly for the 2020 local council elections with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) anticipating one of its healthiest council turnouts.
Ballot packs were mailed to 4.25 million voters between 6-8 October and the VEC had already received 65% back by this morning, with voting not due to close until 6 pm today. Postal votes can be dropped off at election offices by 6 pm today and those mailed by 6 pm can be accepted until 12 noon on Friday 30 October.
The average turnout rate in 2016 was 73%, but based on current return rates, this year’s average is anticipated to be around the 76% mark or higher.
Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, says the public’s response has been positive overall: ‘Voters have been very responsive and have exceeded expectations with the number of early returns surpassing that in 2016. With another five working days for votes to be returned I expect return numbers to continue to grow.’
Mr Gately says that although some issues had been raised regarding the non-receipt of ballot packs and changes of addresses, the VEC worked closely with Australia Post to deliver a further 75,000 ballot packs to alternative addresses.
Mr Gately explained that although voting in council elections is compulsory for voters on the State electoral roll, it is not compulsory for non-resident property owners (such as investment properties or holiday homes*) who comprise around 10% of the 2020 council rolls. Nor is it compulsory for voters who are temporarily interstate or overseas.
Extraction of ballot papers from envelopes commences for Greater Geelong City Council, Melbourne City Council, Melton Shire Council and Stonnington City Council tomorrow, with the remaining councils commencing on Monday.
‘The counting of votes will take place over the next three weeks locally within each council wherever possible,’ Mr Gately says.
The VEC anticipates that all elections will have been declared no later than Friday 13 November. This is later than previous elections because of increased social distancing requirements due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Casey City Council, Whittlesea City Council and South Gippsland Shire Council are under administration and there is no voting in those areas.
*Voting is compulsory for all voters on the Melbourne City Council voters’ roll.