There will be no canvassing at voting booths today with strict social distancing measures from ECQ in full effect.
There will be no canvassing at voting booths today with strict social distancing measures from ECQ in full effect.

ELECTION DAY: Gladstone records almost 20k early voters

It will be an election day like no other, with social distancing measures in full effect and canvassing by campaigners banned by the electoral commission.

Almost half of all registered voters in the Gladstone Regional Council area have taken advantage of early voting methods.

As of 10.30am yesterday, 19,935 enrolled voters had been marked off from a total of 41,313.

Just over 33,000 votes were cast in the region during the 2016 council elections, with a turnout of 81.8 per cent.

Voting booths will be open from 8am-6pm today.

There will be an initial count after polls close, before the official count starts shortly after.

The number of scrutineers has been limited to one per candidate to adhere with ­social distancing measures.

It's understood that the finalising of the vote count in some local government areas may not be determined until after April 7 because of the high number of postal votes.

Across the state a total of 570,000 postal votes have been sent via Australia Post.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has reassured voters there is no risk going to polling booths today.

She said the arrangements made, including extending hours at pre-poll booths, meant the number of Queenslanders left to vote today would be relatively small.

People in isolation are being advised not to go to polling booths and to call the ECQ to vote over the phone.

Telephone voting is a limited service for vulnerable citizens, and healthy people are being urged to vote in person.

The race for mayor is between incumbent Matt Burnett and Gladstone business owner Michael Fearns.

All but two sitting councillors have nominated to run again, with Peter Masters and PJ Sobhanian electing not to go for another term.

There is a total of 21 candidates vying for nine available positions.

According to convention, the councillor with the highest number of votes fills the position of deputy mayor.

A special council meeting to agree to a coronavirus support package was held last Tuesday.

It gave an insight into what new councillors could expect during the continuing health emergency.

Several councillors dialled in to allow for more distance between attendees and there was a reduction in the number of available seats in the gallery.

The package includes rent concessions for council-leased commercial facilities, extensions on licences, the freezing of interest on outstanding rates, and financial support for sporting and community ­organisations.

Before June 30, incoming councillors will receive advice outlining other measures that may reduce the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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