Early voting numbers eclipse 2016 figures
PRE-POLLING for this year's Gladstone Regional Council elections have already eclipsed 2016 figures as voters continue to turn out in high numbers.
Electoral Commission Queensland data shows as of midday 13,488 people had voted at the Gladstone, Boyne Island and Agnes Water pre-polling booths.
There have been 2748 postal vote applications.
There was just over 33,000 votes cast in the 2016 council elections with a turnout of 81.8 per cent.
Of those 10,139 were at pre-poll and 2469 postal.
On Wednesday night laws were passed giving the State Government powers to postpone or suspend council elections, and the ECQ has extended hours at polling booths.
Councillor Desley O'Grady believed people were turning out in high numbers amid the uncertainty over coronavirus.
"I think people want to vote and that's why they're coming early, so they have that opportunity," she said.
Residents Graham and Pamela Rutherford voted at Gladstone pre-poll today. As well as being convenient, they said there was a smaller crowd at a time when social distancing was highlighted.
Both agreed it was important to have new blood on council but to retain some councillors to keep that experience.
State Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher said taking advantage of alternative voting methods and avoiding a rush on election day was smart.
"I certainly think that's the way to go," he said.
A state election is scheduled for October 31, and Mr Butcher had planned to start campaigning after the June/July holidays.
"Hopefully we're over the worst of it by then and we can get back to normal campaigning," he said.
Queensland Parliament has also been suspended until emergency legislation addressing the health crisis is brought forward.
Mr Butcher said the move was sensible to avoid the potential mass infection of politicians at a time when crucial decisions had to be made.
They have already been practising social distancing.
"Even in our caucus we had to change to a bigger room," he said.