Push to stop postal voting

THE Whitsunday Ratepayers Association is strongly opposing a decision that next year's council election be decided by postal voting only.

The association now has 310 members – and 297 of them are opposed to postal voting.

The association members believe postal voting is not a transparent method as people must include their details when they send the envelopes away.

Association secretary Tony Moscato said there were concerns about the possibility of manipulation.

He is also concerned that by council making this decision without consultation, ratepayers have lost their democratic right of being able to choose.

The current council was elected in 2008 by postal vote only.

Whitsunday Regional Council voted three weeks ago to support postal voting only – meaning there would be no booths open for the election in March next year.

Councillor Jan Clifford attempted to have the decision overturned at yesterday's council meeting in Bowen but was unsuccessful.

The motion was lost 5-2 with only Cr Clifford and Cr Jennifer Whitney voting for the rescission motion.

When the motion was first voted on three weeks ago, deputy mayor Cr Rogin Taylor also voted against postal voting but he had since changed his mind and voted with the majority of councillors yesterday.

He said the facts and figures from the Local Government Association proved postal votes got 4.98 per cent more votes than booth votes and 6.12 per cent more correct votes.

Cr Taylor said this showed there was significant improvement in voting via the postal method and that was the way he would vote.

Cr Clifford said she was very concerned there had been no public consultation on the matter before it was decided last month.

“I believe a full postal vote is open to abuse and there is no security,” she said.

Mayor Mike Brunker said it was a legitimate way of voting.

“At the end of the day I would certainly support a ballot box if we were sitting here saying democracy was failing because people weren't voting,” he said at yesterday's meeting.

Three representatives from the ratepayers association travelled to Bowen yesterday for the meeting and said they were disappointed that councillors voted on the rescission motion before public question time.

Mr Moscato addressed the councillors after the decision was made but it was too late.

He told councillors he was disappointed he didn't get to address them before the vote.

“We suggest councillors have taken a decision on incorrect figures,” he said.

“It is very important that you realise there is a massive discontent out there.

“More and more people are feeling that you don't listen to us.”

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