Mayoral candidates at the March 28, 2020, Gympie local government election, Glen Hartwig, Tim Jerome and Mick Curran.
Mayoral candidates at the March 28, 2020, Gympie local government election, Glen Hartwig, Tim Jerome and Mick Curran.

REVEALED: What’s going to happen to Gympie’s non-voters

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) is implementing a tailored response to non-voters from the March local government elections and Currumbin and Bundamba by-elections.

Electoral Commissioner Pat Vidgen said the elections were delivered under challenging circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic intensifying during the election period.

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“The ECQ recognises that many electors who wanted to vote in the local government elections or by-elections, may not have voted due to a heightened anxiety about COVID-19,” Mr Vidgen said.

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About 23 per cent of enrolled voters in the Gympie region failed to vote on March 28.

“While voting is compulsory, we understand the extraordinary circumstances around the March elections and have tailored our response to non-voters accordingly.”

Mr Vidgen said the election data shows that around 270,000 Queensland electors were first-time non-voters in March.

“In recognition of the unprecedented circumstances of delivering the elections during an unfolding global pandemic, first-time non-voters will not be fined or receive a warning from the ECQ,” he said.

March 2020 Gympie council election divison
March 2020 Gympie council election divison

“However, we remind electors that voting is compulsory and, with expanded voting options for the October State general election, concerns over COVID-19 won’t be considered a valid reason for not voting.

“In coming weeks around 30,000 electors will receive a warning letter because they have missed voting in more than one election, including March, and have not provided an excuse or responded to the ECQ.

“The approximately 20,000 electors who are repeat non-voters across multiple elections and have made no effort to engage with the ECQ, will be sent an ‘apparent failure to vote’ notice and be invited to explain their reason for not voting.

“If they are unable to provide a valid reason, or do not engage with the ECQ, they will receive a fine.”

Mr Vidgen said preparations are well advanced to deliver a COVID-safe State general election in October with the ECQ issuing a Statement of Intent outlining the election’s delivery principles.

“The ECQ is using all the lessons from March to ensure a safe and fair general election in October,” he said.

Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times
Photo Renee Albrecht/Gympie Times

“This means voters will be provided with every opportunity to vote while accommodating health requirements.

“We urge electors to plan for the election, to choose whether they’ll postal vote, vote early or on election day, and be clear about their choice of candidate and their order of preferences.”

Mr Vidgen said ECQ staff are pleased to have delivered the March local government elections without a spike in COVID-19.

“This excellent outcome was due to careful adherence to the Chief Health Officer’s advice, the diligence of our staff, and the sensible response by electors when voting.

“For the State election, we will again implement a range of health measures as well as extended voting opportunities to ensure electors can safely participate in our democracy and elect their next state government,” Mr Vidgen said.

Updates the State