2 October 2020

Electoral Commission prepares for a flood of early voters over long weekend

| Dominic Giannini
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ACT poll worker

Early voting numbers for the 2020 ACT election has surpassed previous elections. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A record 32,000 Canberrans have already voted early and the ACT Electoral Commission is expecting this number to soar over the long weekend.

Around 85,000 people, or about a third of voters, voted early in 2016. This year, this number is expected to jump to around 80 per cent.

“At the previous ACT election in 2016 the number of votes cast at an early voting centre did not surpass 32,000 until the Monday of the final week of the election period,” Electoral Commissioner Damian Cantwell said.

“It is pleasing to see so many ACT residents have listened to our message to vote early this election and have cast their vote in this first week of early voting.

“There is no doubt that we’re on track for a record number of people casting an early vote.”

Three to four times the number of people are voting early per day so far, with the average number of voters over the first four days jumping from just over 2,400 to just under 8,200.

Early voting

Around 80 per cent of people are expected to vote early this election. Image: Elections ACT.

The ACT Electoral Commission is currently running its ‘Vote Early. Vote Safe’ campaign to encourage Canberrans to avoid large crowds on polling day. The influx of early voting, and extension of the pre-polling period, has radically shifted the way political parties have run their campaigns this year.

Parties have rushed to put their big-ticket policies out ahead of the final election day on 17 October, as opposed to the usual media saturation in the fortnight leading up to voting day.

The influx of people voting electronically also means a result may come in mere 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 come during the following week, the large number of electronic votes may provide enough data to accurately predict the result early on election night.

If you are looking to avoid crowds at one of Canberra’s 15 early polling places, it is best to avoid the lunchtime rush as centres report the highest number of people voting between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm.

The lowest number of people voting is between 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm for polling places that are open that extra hour. Places that are open an hour early between 8:00 am and 9:00 am also have low numbers of people voting.

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

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