Postal voting fails to deliver claim

SOME City of Perth councillors and nominees have called for changes to postal voting processes, claiming some electors on the City of Perth roll did not receive postal voting packages for the May 3 elections.

The timing of elections was also an issue with some electors receiving their packages days later than fellow voters because of the Easter holiday period.

The voting packages sent out by the WA Electoral Commission contain candidate profiles and postal vote forms and envelopes.

Candidates attempt to time their own promotional material mail-outs, which can cost several thousand dollars so that voters receive the electoral material on the same day as the voting packages.

The situation was further complicated this year by Anzac Day falling exactly one week after Good Friday and the period between Good Friday and the poll falling entirely within the first term school holiday break.

A spokesperson for the WA Electoral Commission confirmed some voters received packages before Easter and others after Easter but said all should have been delivered prior to Anzac Day.

The commission handled 55 postal vote and one in-house elections, she said, and in the week before Easter had delivered 920,000 voting packages to Australia Post.

Each of the packages contained between six and eight pieces of paper, she said.

The commission had arranged for the printing of the material, by Canning Vale printer Zipform, within a couple of days of the closing of nominations and 600 extra casual and temporary staff were hired for the two weeks leading up to the elections.

Under the Western Australian Local Government Act the WA Electoral Commission must manage postal elections but one experienced councillor suggested a choice of private enterprise and the Australian Electoral Commission be offered.

However the WA Electoral Commission spokesperson said the commission could keep the costs low because of the volume of work it offered to a printer and to Australia Post for 900,000 electors.

A private operator managing postal voting for just one or two electorates would not be able to achieve similar prices, she said.

A spokesperson for Local Government Minister Tom Stephens said moving the elections from early May would require a change of the Local Government Act and there were no plans to do so.

Elections were held in May to enable newly elected councillors to participate in the adoption of new council budgets for July.

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