We are now just three days away from the Queensland council elections (along with two state by-elections), and there is more and more evidence that record numbers of voters are casting ballots before election day.
Firstly, the final number of applications for postal votes was 570,000 (not 540,000 as I previously reported). The ECQ reports that the “vast majority” of these votes have been lodged with Australia Post, so it sounds like most will be returned. As a comparison, 75,000 applications were made for the 2016 council elections, and about 370,000 Queenslanders applied for postal votes at the 2019 federal election.
About 3.2 million Queenslanders are eligible to vote, so that’s already about one sixth of the electorate casting a vote by post.
As of Tuesday evening, 750,000 people have cast a pre-poll vote. This compares to 675,000 by the Tuesday before election day in Queensland at the 2019 federal election, and that pre-poll period had covered an extra week. With over 100,000 votes cast on Monday and Tuesday, it seems very likely that over one million pre-poll votes will be cast early.
There is also a relatively obscure method of voting via telephone which has been traditionally restricted to a group of voters with a disability, but it has now been extended to those who are required to self-isolate and thus cannot otherwise cast a vote. 19,000 people have registered for telephone voting, and at least 11,000 have cast a vote. As a comparison, only 350 voters used this method at the 2017 Queensland state election.
All up, these three methods look set to cover about 1.6 million votes, out of a total electorate of 3.2 million. You’d have to assume depressed turnout due to the relatively low profile of the election and the major health crisis, so it seems certain that voters casting a ballot on election day will be a minority of the total turnout.