The safety and wellbeing of voters, candidates and election staff is at the centre of the Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC’s) COVIDSafe election plan released late last week.
The plan has been released following confirmation from the Minister for Local Government that local council elections will proceed in October as originally scheduled.
The VEC has closely monitored Government advice in developing the COVIDSafe election plan.
The Plan puts additional measures in place to safely manage the Victorian local council elections being held by post this October.
Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately has reassured Victorians that postal voting is safe and of high integrity, and that the VEC is ready to respond to the changing environment.
“The situation remains dynamic and the VEC continues to actively monitor conditions and restrictions,” Mr Gately said.
“Additional measures in place include increased distancing in election offices, limiting face-to-face contact, enforcing mask wearing where mandated by the Victorian Government, and moving operational activity online whenever possible.”
Measures to further safeguard voters and VEC staff include the removal of counter service for replacement ballot packs and unenrolled votes for these elections; requests can be made over the phone and replacement packs will be sent by mail.
Voters will still be able to hand deliver completed ballot papers to the election office if they miss the mail collection times with strict social distancing measures in place.
Information sessions for candidates will be moved online. It’s also expected that additional social distancing during vote counting activities will delay the declaration of results for some elections by at least one week to Friday, November 13.
Mr Gately reminded voters that the situation is fluid and may require the VEC to adapt to the evolving environment.
“The election program is complex, and all participants are asked to be patient during the various stages of the elections and respectful of all involved. Short notice changes to processes may be required,” he said.
The COVIDSafe election plan can be found online at vec.vic.gov.au/voting/2020-local-council-election/providing-safe-elections.