VOTER NUMBERS DOWN: Jan Clifford, Jess Kelly and Mark Yore ran for the Division 1 seat.
VOTER NUMBERS DOWN: Jan Clifford, Jess Kelly and Mark Yore ran for the Division 1 seat.

ECQ numbers reveal shocking no show from Division 1 voters

NEARLY half of the residents enrolled in Division 1 did not vote in the recent Whitsunday Regional Council election, according to data from the Electoral Commission Queensland.

The voting turnout for the Airlie Beach-centred seat sat at 57.59 per cent, with more than 1500 residents not taking to the polls.

The Division 1 seat has historically seen a smaller turnout, however this is the lowest percentage in the last three elections.

In 2016, 67.77 per cent of voters lodged a vote, while the 2012 election saw a turnout of 59.37.

In 2008, 62.67 per cent of Division 1 residents voted.

Division 1 candidate Jess Kelly said he was “disappointed” by this year’s outcome.

“I’m not really happy about the result with low numbers and what could have been,” he said.

“I would have liked to have won and, with a result like that with such low numbers, that could have happened. There’s so many numbers not there.”

Mr Kelly was second in the race for Division 1 and sat just over 250 votes behind returning councillor Jan Clifford.

Mark Yore was the third candidate in the running for the seat and secured just over 13 per cent of the vote.

Mr Yore believed the low voting turnout could have been for many reasons including the transient population of the division.

He also noted that the closure of the Hamilton Island polling booth may have contributed to lower numbers.

On the day of the election, a spokeswoman from Hamilton Island said the decision to close the booth was to ensure the safety of residents with the island entering a coronavirus lockdown soon after.

The spokeswoman said all residents on the island would instead be able to vote via phone.

However, data from the ECQ showed just 55 Division 1 residents lodged their vote over the phone.

Mother and daughter Kerrigan Plahn (left) and Lee Plahn voted at Cannonvale State Shool on election day.
Mother and daughter Kerrigan Plahn (left) and Lee Plahn voted at Cannonvale State Shool on election day.

Mr Yore said he was surprised the election went ahead with the concerns around coronavirus, saying that could have been another reason for the turnout.

“There was a fairly decent pushback of people saying they were not going to risk going out,” he said.

“I think had there not been two state bi-elections, we would probably be waiting for a council election to be held.

“I don’t think it was a very wise decision to hold it.”

Division 1 councillor Jan Clifford agreed with Mr Yore, saying she was “disappointed” by the low turnout, also putting it down to coronavirus concerns.

“I think a lot of people were concerned about the virus rather than people for whatever reason,” he said.

“I was not happy Jan with the ECQ in the way that things were done, it think it could have been handled a lot better and I think they were making stuff ups as they went.”

Cr Clifford said job loss, the closure of the Hamilton Island booth and the transient population could have factored into lower numbers.

“I’m sorry they didn’t vote whatever way it went,” she said.

“I’ll be working as hard as I can to support Division 1. We’re currently in budget which will be brought down in July, so we’re trying to work out what we can or can’t do.”

Turnout across the board was slightly lower than the 2016 election although not to the extent of Division 1.

In Division 2, 71.41 per cent of residents voted compared to 76.58 per cent in 2016.

Division 3 saw the highest voter turnout with 82.17 per cent compared with 85.87 per cent in 2016.

There was a slight drop in Division 4 with 76.56 per cent of voters ticking a box this year compared to 64.42 per cent in 2016.

Dave Clark secured the Division 5 seat unopposed in the 2016 election, but in 2012 the voting numbers for spot sat at 72.4 per cent compared with 78.78 per cent this year.

The voting divisions also changed this year and meant the boundary lines for all divisions were slightly different to previous elections.


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