'Unprecedented' call volume forces vulnerable voter to polls
THE contentious decision to go ahead with the council election has left a Bowen voter fearing for her health after her attempts to place phone votes failed.
Despite the cancellation of events and activities across the country, residents of Bowen and surrounding areas headed into the PCYC and Queens Beach State School polling booths to cast their votes.
Voters who visited the Bowen PCYC voiced their concerns about the current COVID-19 situation and expressed concern about having to risk their health or face the penalty for not voting.
Bowen resident Alice McLennan lives with a chronic illness and worries about being around large groups of people at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic of this scale.
"Yeah I was really worried, I've got a chronic illness," she said.
"I did not want to come in."
Ms McLennan said she had spent days attempting to vote online and via the ECQ phone number with no success, forcing her to visit the Bowen PCYC to complete her vote on election day.
"We tried to put in an absent vote and tried to ring but it was too busy, it kept saying they were too busy and disconnecting," she said.
"Then I tried to use the website but it crashed.
"We tried all day, I don't want the fine so I'm here."
An Electoral Commission of Queensland spokeswoman said the organisation had faced "unprecedented" call volumes and any eligible voters who weren't able to get through, may be able to contest the fine.
'"Anyone who is unwell, should follow their medical practitioner's advice," she said.
"If someone eligible for a telephone vote couldn't get through, and receives an Apparent Failure to Vote Notice for this election from the ECQ, they simply need to make reference of their attempt to telephone vote in the applicable area on the form.
"The ECQ has received unprecedented demand for telephone voting, and we have increased our capacity to take telephone votes ten-fold from our previous local government elections."
The spokeswoman said 45,281 electors had registered for the service as of noon Saturday, when registrations closed.
"To put it in perspective, at the 2016 local government elections, there were 500," she said.
ECQ continues to urge healthy voters to stay off the phones and vote in person.
Telephone voting is a limited service specifically for our most vulnerable and isolated citizens.