Federal polling places axed

Latrobe Valley residents will have fewer places to cast their vote in next year’s federal election, following a review by the Australian Electoral Commission.

The AEC plans to axe four polling places from the Latrobe Valley, along with the only Erica voting centre.

Traralgon’s Uniting Church and Cooinda Hill; and Morwell’s Tobruk Street Primary School and Morwell Revival Centre are among 19 polling places on the chopping block in the Gippsland electorate.

The changes leave Traralgon with three remaining polling places and Morwell with two.

In the McMillan electorate, Moe and Newborough voting centres will remain the same, however Erica residents will now have to vote in nearby Rawson.

Erica caf -owner Jodie Mace said she considered Erica and Rawson to be one community, so voting in the neighbouring town would not be an inconvenience.

“It might be a little harder for some elderly residents I suppose, but it’s up to the rest of the community to make sure they get there,” Ms Mace said.

“I’m sure there are other places where people have to travel more than four kilometres to vote.”

In the 2013 federal election, 164 votes were cast at the Erica polling place.

An AEC spokesperson said the commission considered a range of factors for all abolitions, including the statistics of people who use each polling place, the proximity of other polling places, the availability of alternative voting options like early voting centres, postal, or remote polling, health and safety standards and security.

As a result of the review, 197 polling places across Victoria and 730 across Australia have been abolished.

Advance Morwell president John Guy said the changes had left a gap in the north of the town, which he believed would disadvantage people on polling day.

Traralgon Community Development Association president Axella Johannesson said less polling places would mean longer queues, but if the trend towards pre-polling continued, the reduction would not be an issue.

The Traralgon and Morwell centres to be axed each had less than 1000 votes cast at the last election.

The AEC changes do not apply to state elections.