Fines for failing to vote
A 64-YEAR-OLD Jubilee Pocket man came close to being fined for failing to vote in this year's Whitsunday Regional Council (WRC) election, which was conducted entirely by post.
Owen Tate voted in person at the PCYC during the State Government election of March 24 and thought he could do the same thing when the council elections came around.
However, when Mr Tate turned up at the PCYC on Saturday, April 28, there were no polling booths to be found.
Mr Tate said the paperwork he received from the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) was identical for both elections therefore he had no reason to believe the processes would be different. He stated he received no ballot slips - just a duplicate of his original voting card and enrolment details.
Mr Tate had almost forgotten about the experience when an "apparent failure to vote" notice arrived in the mail last week.
"The letter [from ECQ] said if I think I've got a valid reason I can put it in writing, but no-one's going to understand it, because I can't write properly and I've got an arthritic disability as well," he said.
Mr Tate called ECQ and was told he could simply tick one of three boxes on the back of the form and the matter would be struck out.
"They said to sign it, send it back and that's the end of the matter, but I still reckon it's wrong what happened. How many people are going to go through the same thing I don't know," he said.
A spokesperson from ECQ said there seemed to have been a misunderstanding of the non-voter process under the Local Government Electoral Act.
"No fines have yet been issued. Electors who apparently did not vote have been sent a letter inviting them to contact the Commission if they believe they have a reasonable excuse for not voting," the spokesperson said.
"All reasons will be assessed on their individual merits. However, if persons accept that they do not have a reasonable excuse they have the option of reducing the penalty that would apply, through early payment. At this stage the Electoral Commission is awaiting responses from the electors concerned."