How to vote early in the QLD state election
With the Queensland state election coming in the next few weeks, here's an in-depth guide on all people need to know about voting early, COVID-safety measures and more.
When is the Queensland election?
The 2020 Queensland election will take place on Saturday, October 31. Early voting will be open from Monday, October 19, until Friday, October 30, with about 200 early-voting centres open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 6pm and Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 9pm.
For the first time at a Queensland state election, there will also be early voting on Saturday, October 24 from 9am to 5pm.
Is voting compulsory?
Yes. Voting is compulsory for all Queenslanders over the age of 18. If people don't vote, they may receive a fine.
What happens if people don't vote?
The Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) will send people an 'apparent failure to vote' notice if it appears they haven't voted. Following on from this, they have the option to:
- Provide a valid and sufficient reason for not voting
- Tell ECQ they did vote and provide details
- Pay a $133.45 fine
If people don't respond to the 'failure to vote' notice, ECQ will refer them to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) for further action.
How can people cast their vote?
Postal vote: Applications are open now until Friday, October 16, with electors able to apply for a postal vote online at ecq.qld.gov.au/postal or by phoning ECQ's call centre on 1300 881 665.
Early voting: Voters can visit one of the 200 early-voting centres available on the ECQ website - some locations are still being confirmed and further information about opening hours and final locations will be published prior to the election.
Election day: Voting will be available at more than 1300 polling booths across the state between 8am and 6pm on Saturday, October 31.
Telephone vote: Telephone voting is a strictly-limited service available only to eligible electors including those who cannot vote without assistance because they have an impairment, have an insufficient level of literacy, cannot vote at a polling booth because of an impairment, are a special postal voter, or are a distance voter.
Why do people choose to vote early?
With the ECQ having noted a trend towards early voting, many Queenslanders are choosing to do so in this state election as a means of social distancing.
"The ECQ is expecting most electors to vote during the early voting period for the state general election and has expanded the number of voting centres and hours of operation to maximise opportunities for people to vote," an ECQ spokesperson said.
"This will assist with social distancing and limit the numbers of people attending polling booths on election day."
Postal vote guide:
Since the ECQ opened postal vote applications early on September 14, nearly 300,000 applications have been received.
Postal votes will be sent to electors after the close of candidate nominations, the ballot paper order draw, and the printing of ballot papers, in mid-October.
The ECQ encourages electors to vote, sign, witness and return their vote as soon as possible after receiving it with all voting to be completed before 6pm on election day, Saturday, October 31.
To be included in the count, all postal votes must be returned by Tuesday, November 10.
How do people vote on election day?
"Using the Voter Information Card or VIC at a polling booth means electors can be marked off the roll more quickly," an ECQ spokesperson said, with a VIC set to be mailed to all electors and emailed to those who've included their email on the electoral roll.
To make a vote count, people must number all the boxes on their ballot paper in order of preference starting with 1 - for more information, read the full preferential voting fact sheet.
For people overseas, how can they vote?
For Queenslanders who are overseas at the time of a state election, they have the ability to complete an overseas notification form or, if they are travelling indefinitely, they have the option to be removed from the electoral roll while they are away - however, once they return to Australia they will need to re-enrol.
How will COVID-19 restrictions affect voting?
"The ECQ has planned for a COVID-safe state general election," an ECQ spokesperson said.
"The Statement of Intent outlines how a COVID-safe election will be achieved with expanded in-person and postal voting options, with telephone voting for eligible electors only.
"All measures will be implemented based on advice from Queensland's chief health officer."
Measures at polling places, which have been implemented in consultation with health authorities, include:
- Training for election staff
- Actively maintaining social distancing
- Use of contract tracing registers
- Frequent cleaning
- Provision of hand sanitation facilities, and
- Use of daily checklists to ensure measures are maintained for the entire election period
"These measures are intended to maximise voter enfranchisement while assuring the safety of voters, candidates, campaign volunteers and temporary election staff," the ECQ spokesperson said.
For more information, visit: ecq.qld.gov.au
Originally published as How to vote early in the QLD state election