Early voting commenced at the beginning of this week, and after three days it looks like numbers are very high in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Postal voting applications closed at the end of Monday. 75,000 registrations were submitted in 2016, while about 370,000 were submitted in Queensland for the 2019 federal election. You’d expect applications to be higher for a federal election than a council election.
This time there have been 540,000 applications, which is massive, although not everyone who receives a postal vote package will cast a vote in that way.
It’s harder to compare the pre-poll voting figures to the 2016 election, but by 5pm on Wednesday about 270,000 pre-poll votes had been cast.
I haven’t been able to find figures on how many votes were cast per day in pre-poll in 2016, and the total figure is unavailable without compiling the booth voting figures for every council (I’ve just done Brisbane), but we can compare to the federal election pre-poll statistics from 2019.
At the 2019 federal election, pre-poll voting went for three weeks, unlike the two weeks for this council election. But after the Wednesday of the second-last week of the campaign, just over 300,000 pre-poll votes had been cast in Queensland, out of a total of just over 1 million votes. About 62,000 votes were cast on that Wednesday. So far we’ve had 270,000 votes cast over three days, with about 100,000 votes yesterday. At that rate I could imagine more pre-poll votes being cast than were cast in Queensland in 2019.
So we could be looking at as many as 1.5 million Queenslanders casting a vote prior to election day, out of a total electorate of 3.2 million – almost half.
The ECQ has also announced some more detail about measures to mitigate risk of contracting coronavirus for voters and staff since my last post. Measures will be taken to ensure no more than 100 people are inside a booth at any one time and to ensure that queues are spaced apart. Telephone voting is also available for some voters, and they have specifically stated that this includes those who are required to self-isolate and thus can’t come to the polls, solving the dilemma for those who’ve left it too late to apply for a postal ballot.