6 October 2020

Canberrans rush to the polls to vote early

| Dominic Giannini
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Voting at CMAG

A record number of Canberrans have voted early for this year’s election. Photo: Region Media.

More than 18,300 people headed to the polls over the long weekend to vote early ahead of the ACT election, although numbers dipped from their weekday averages.

Voting numbers stalled across Sunday and Monday – although still up exponentially from the last election – while Friday saw the highest number of voters by a country mile, with 11,861 people casting their ballots.

More than 63,200 people had cast their vote when booths closed on Monday (5 October), compared with 9,664 at the same time during the last election in 2016 (although, there have been four more days of early voting this year compared to four years ago).

Around 21 per cent of Canberrans have voted early in the first week of pre-polling. The ACT Electoral Commission is expecting as many as 80 per cent of people to vote early this election as it ramps up its ‘Vote Early. Vote Safe’ campaign. This compares to the third of Canberrans – or 85,000 people – who voted early at the 2016 election.

The surge in early voting due to the pandemic has changed the way political parties have run their campaign as parties have rushed to put their big-ticket policies out ahead of the final election day on 17 October – as was evident with the number of policies rolled out over the long weekend, two weeks out from voting day.

READ ALSO ACT election should pave way for e-voting nationwide

Electronic voting may also mean the election result could be known just hours after polling closes, with votes and preferences distributed at the click of a button.

While the election cannot be officially called until all postal ballots are received during the following week, the large number of electronic votes may provide enough data to accurately predict the result early on election night.

The full list of early polling locations is available at Elections ACT.

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