‘Flawed’ postal ballot system silences Burnett voters
THE state election has come and gone, but many Queenslanders living in remote areas are still awaiting the arrival of their postal ballot. With just a handful of votes spelling victory for certain parties in several electorates, Member for Callide Colin Boyce said the postal ballot system is not only failing regional Queenslanders, but reveals a huge flaw in our democracy.
“There was simply not enough time allowed for rural and regional voters to receive their votes, with many postal services needing at least 10 days for mail to come from Brisbane,” Mr Boyce said.
“We live in a democratic society and if you’ve applied for a postal vote and it doesn’t arrive on time, that’s a huge flaw in the system.”
After receiving a call from some friends, who had been denied a vote this year since their postal ballot didn’t arrive on time, Mr Boyce reached out to the local community to ascertain how many others are in the same boat.
“They’re a two and a half hours drive from the nearest polling booth, which is something many people in metropolitan areas don’t understand. Depending on where you live, you could be driving half a day to reach your closest polling booth,” he said.
“We have fielded several calls from people who haven’t received their postal votes or they haven’t arrived on time to make them count.”
Mr Boyce has begun compiling a list of names within the Callide electorate who experienced a delay, which he will deliver to the Electoral Commission.
“The system being used by the electoral commission it’s flawed. Everyone is entitled to a vote and it’s up to the electoral commission to fix this,” he said.
“Even now, there are several electorates that are undecided and just a few votes can determine who is voted in. Every vote counts.”
Responding to a callout Mr Boyce published to Facebook, one woman commented “my husband and I still waiting for our postal votes, we had to vote absentee.”
“I received mine today, Monday. Too late,” another woman said.
According to an Electoral Commission Queensland spokeswoman, nearly 70 per cent of postal votes have been returned to the ECQ from electors in the Burnett region.
“The ECQ received a record number of around 900,000 postal vote applications for this election and had planned to cater for this large volume of postal votes,” she said.
“Postal votes were printed and lodged with Australia Post by 21 October. This was within their time frame for delivery.”
During the last week of early voting, electors who were concerned they wouldn’t receive their postal vote in time were encouraged to vote in person at an early voting or election day voting centre by the ECQ.
“Some regional electors were eligible to telephone vote, and this was suggested through a number of media interviews as an option for electors living more than 20 km from a polling booth.”
“Of the over 7,900 postal votes requested by electors in Burnett, more than 5,200 have already been returned to the ECQ and scrutinised.”
The ECQ has assured voters that if they did not receive their postal ballot in time to vote before 6pm on election day, they will not receive a ‘failure to vote’ notice.
“Reviews of elections are carried out following the event and will consider any further opportunities to improve election processes.”