City of Wanneroo opts for WAEC to run local govt election in October

City of Wanneroo opts for WAEC to run local govt election in October

CITY of Wanneroo has opted have the WA Electoral Commission (WAEC) run its postal election for the October local government elections, but councillors have bemoaned the lack of alternatives.

At their February council meeting, elected members supported a recommendation that the electoral commissioner would conduct this year’s council elections through postal votes.

However, mover Brett Treby said there had been issues with previous elections that the City wanted the WAEC to address.

“From my perspective, the service level that’s been provided by the WAEC since 2009 has diminished dramatically,” he said.

“We have had to engage them; we don’t have a choice.”

Cr Treby said the City had a population of more than 200,000 and was big geographically so the process of running a postal election needed to take that into account.

“Running an election in the City of Wanneroo won’t be straightforward,” he said.

During the 2015 election, Wanneroo’s ballot papers were among the last printed, which led to delays in voting packages arriving in letterboxes.

Cr Treby said that meant some ratepayers did not feel they had an opportunity to have their say; he also highlighted that the fees paid to the WAEC came from rates.

Seconder Dianne Guise said the postal vote was important to increase participation rates as voting was not mandatory in council elections and it was more convenient for people than in-person voting.

Cr Guise said the City needed a guarantee when its ballot papers would be on the print run and posted.

The February 7 report to the council said voter participation had been about 21.9 per cent in the 2015 and 2013 elections, while the state average both years had been almost 28 per cent.

In 2011, 24.6 per cent of Wanneroo voters participated, down from 28 per cent in 2009.

The report said the City had previously raised concerns with the WAEC about late distribution of election packages.

“The WAEC advised the City that, following a review of the circumstances, greater priority would be given to the lodgement of City of Wanneroo packages at the 2017 elections,” it said.

According to a letter from electoral commissioner David Kerslake to the City, it would cost about $428,000 for the WAEC to provide a postal ballot to Wanneroo’s 117,500 electors.

“This cost estimate includes a proposed increase in the postage rate by Australia Post effective from January 4,” he said.

“An additional amount of $23,670 will be incurred if your council decides to opt for the Australia Post priority service.

“The additional cost of priority mail does not significantly speed up the delivery of the election packages.”

While councillors discussed using the more expensive priority post option, Cr Dot Newton said she posted two envelopes to herself last November – one with a standard $1 stamp and the other through priority post.

“The $1 (envelope) arrived ahead of the priority one,” she said. THE City of Wanneroo has knocked back a request from the WA Electoral Commission to waive hire fees at the Clarkson Youth Centre for the State Election.

The WAEC had applied to the City to waive 100 per cent of the $473.75 hire fee for it to use the centre as a polling centre on March 11.

Councillors unanimously supported a recommendation not to approve it because it did not satisfy criteria of the City’s policy for donations, sponsorships and waiver of fees and charges.