Local postal voters slow in Wanneroo

WANNEROO voters have been lagging behind the others across the state in returning postal votes for this weekend’s local government election.

Figures from the WA Electoral Commission showed City of Wanneroo wards had some of the lowest return rates, with only 5.65 per cent of South Ward votes arriving by last Thursday.

In the Central and North Coast Wards, returned packages reached 9.44 per cent and 12.11 per cent respectively by October 8, both below the state average of 17.3 per cent.

More City of Joondalup voters had returned their packages, with figures varying between 11.2 per cent in the South West Ward and 15.67 per cent in the South Ward.

In the Shire of Gingin, 23.73 per cent of voters had returned their ballot papers last week.

Returning officer Jim Kelly said Australia Post delivered the election packages to households in the City of Wanneroo about a week later than in regional areas.

“Wanneroo will catch up – about 50 per cent of those that are going to vote do so in the first five days of getting the packages,” he said.

Mr Kelly said with 30 candidates campaigning for eight positions, include the mayoral seat, he expected the final return rate to be higher.

“The mayoral vote affects all electors. If they are motivated to vote in the mayoral campaign, it’s likely that they would vote in the ward,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the arrival of election packages in the two days before the AFL Grand Final could also have affected the return rate, with people distracted from doing paperwork.

By yesterday, the rates had increased to an average of 14.5 per cent in Wanneroo and 16.3 per cent in Joondalup.

With a few days left to return postal ballots for the October 17 count, Deputy Electoral Commissioner Chris Avent said participation rates were lower than at the last elections.

“While electors still have time to return their postal vote, at present we are tracking about 2 to 3 per cent lower on a state-wide average basis compared with returns at this stage at the 2013 elections,” he said.

“As of Thursday, October 8, the average return rate for the 177 separate district or ward postal elections being run by the Commission was a lowly 17.3 per cent.

“This doesn’t include all packages that have been placed in ballot boxes at council offices; however it is certainly lower than we would like to see at this stage.”

Mr Avent said it was easy for eligible electors to have their say in who would represent them on council for the next four years.

“Simply mark the ballot paper as per the instructions, place it in the ballot paper envelope, sign and date the certificate and then return it in the reply paid envelope,” he said.

To be included in the count, returning officers must receive ballot papers by 6pm on polling day, October 17.

Mr Avent said if electors had not posted their ballot by tomorrow they should hand deliver them into the ballot box at their local government office.