The Victorian Electoral Commission has been given the authority to extend the postal voting timeline for this month’s council elections if necessary to ensure voter participation and election results are not affected by any possible mail delivery delays. Seventy-six of Victoria’s 79 councils are having elections and all are being conducted by post; the exceptions are Casey City, South Gippsland Shire and Whittlesea City councils, which are all under administration.
Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately welcomed the changes as an appropriate contingency option to respond to community concerns about extended mail delivery timelines arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. “The VEC is engaging regularly with Australia Post and will be using the priority paid mail service for all postal ballots mailed and returned, but I accept there may be some delays,” Mr Gately said.
“The strict timelines for the mailing and receipt of ballot packs is prescribed by law. The authority provided to me by the regulatory amendments allows me – if required – to mitigate the impact that any possible delays could have on the integrity of the elections.
“I will not risk voters being deprived of the right to vote. This action doesn’t mean the timelines will change, just that they may be changed if there is any evidence that delays in the postal network are impacting the integrity of the elections.”