Local government elections to proceed

The state government has confirmed that local government elections will still go ahead as planned on Saturday, October 24.

Questions had been raised recent months as to whether the elections would be pushed back amid COVID-19 lockdowns and public safety measures to allow the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) more time to compile electoral rolls. However, Minister for Local Government Adem Somyurek confirmed that Victorians would still be able to have their say this October with “safe and secure” postal votes to be used for the elections. 

Mr Somyurek said it would be the first time postal voting had been used across all Victorian councils, following changes to the Local Government Act 2020 requiring a state-wide and uniform approach to voting. 

“Victorians have the right to a democratic say on who represents them at all levels of government,” Minister Somyurek said. “The Chief Health Officer has advised that it is safe for the postal election to proceed this year.” 

The VEC’s electoral commissioner Warwick Gately AM acknowledged the announcement. “The upcoming local government elections in Victoria will support continuity of democratic representation for Victorian communities,” Mr Gately said.

“The VEC will continue to monitor and implement advice issued by the Chief Health Officer of Victoria to ensure the elections are conducted with minimal risk to the health and safety of Victorians.”

Ballot packs will be mailed to voters and will include voting instructions, candidate information, a ballot paper, and a reply-paid envelope. Postal voting is completely secret. “We will continue to liaise with Australia Post, given their critical role in the elections,” Mr Gately said.

Voters must confirm they are enrolled on either the State electoral roll or their council roll before 4.00pm on Friday, August 28.

The VEC said it would take additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, candidates and the public. 

“This includes provisions to maintain physical distancing requirements and hygiene standards at all election office and count locations. It’s anticipated the adjustments will extend the time period for finalising results by one week,” a VEC spokesperson said.

“It is important to remember that voting is compulsory for voters who are on the State roll. State-enrolled voters who don’t vote may be fined.” •

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