Voting in the age of coronavirus

19th March 2020

While coronavirus (COVID-19) will be felt across every level of society in Australia and around the globe, it could also spell the end of traditional Election Day spruiking with how-to-vote flyers.

It could even be the beginning of a push for future online voting options. Either way, elections will never be the same.

Past Speaker of the Queensland Parliament and QUT Adjunct Associate Professor John Mickel said the public health crisis and concern about the spread of contagion will be tested with the Queensland local government elections scheduled for Saturday 28 March.

“The Government and the Electoral Commission of Queensland have responded positively to the changing situation with the extension of pre–poll hours and telephone voting,” Professor Mickel said.

QUT Adjunct Professor John Mickel

“Candidates are now coming to the view that the public will not want how to vote cards in a non-contact environment.

“There is an increasing trend for voters not to take How to Vote Cards anyway while candidate volunteers may be reluctant to hand out voting material in view of the coronavirus.

“Consideration should instead be given to displaying how to vote cards in polling booths which would mean people are not needed to hand out voting material.

“The ECQ has shown a willingness to adapt to the times, this is one other measure the commission should consider adopting.

“I think this is also an opportunity to bend to the political reality that voters do not want to be assailed with party faithful and their possibly germ-laden how-to-vote flyers.”

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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