IT’S a stuff up all round – the change to preference voting notification for the 2016 local government elections.
If candidates want to let their supporters know their recommendations for preferences in the October poll, they’ll have to go to great personal expense.
Especially if they want to get to absentee holiday home owners in areas like Sandy Point, Venus Bay, Inverloch and other coastal settlements in Bass Coast and South Gippsland; they’ll have to do their own mailouts.
It could cost several thousand dollars.
Previously they could have relied on the voter packs, put together by the Victorian Electoral Commission, to get their ‘how to vote’ indications out there but with only weeks to go before the all-postal-vote election, the system was changed.
And it’s not altogether the Andrews Government’s fault.
In fact, they said the preferences should stay in the voter packs but a coalition of Liberals, Greens and Nationals in the Upper House insisted on the removal of preference indications.
A spokesman for Local Government Minister Natalie Hutchins said consideration was given to drafting a new set of regulations, with the preference indications in but it got too close to the nomination time and they let it pass.
Confusion about preferences and how to advise voters was one of the main issues discussed with Returning Officer for the South Gippsland Shire Council election, Cheryl Bruce, at a candidates’ information night last week.
“There are no preferences. It’s still a proportional count but there’s no preferences in the voting pack. Those interested in how the preferential system works should take a look at a very informative film clip on the VEC website.”
Mrs Bruce said candidates were still allowed to hand out personal electoral material but she urged people to be careful that it was presented in a formal ‘how to vote’ card way so as not to confuse voters.
Candidates received information on key dates, costs and their responsibilities.
It costs $250 to stand for election, nominations close at 12 noon today, Tuesday, September 20 and the voting packs will be mailed out from Tuesday, October 4.
You must vote and send off your ballot papers by Friday, October 21.
The result of the election will not be known until after October 28, the last day for postal ballot letters to be received.
Confusion and cost fears after preference blackout