The Electoral Commissioner warns that voters in many regions of Australia may not have a polling station in their city on Election Day due to a shortage of workers.
- The federal elections are this Saturday.
- The Australian Electoral Commission has failed to employ enough staff for polling stations in regional areas
- An academic says he has never heard of a similar situation
Some of the larger cities affected in South Australia include Ceduna, Maitland and Two Wells, along with the Adelaide suburb of Maslin Beach.
The larger cities of Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie, all in Gray’s electorate, may have fewer polling booths than in previous elections.
The Australian Electoral Commission says the Queensland electorates of Capricorn, Flynn, Kennedy and Leichhardt may also be affected, along with Durack and O’Connor in Western Australia.
Election Commissioner Tom Rogers blamed a shortage of workers in regional areas.
“We are calling on other organizations to help as a final push and investigate all possible staffing models, including merging locations.
“We also continue to engage with local residents in the hope that they will raise their hands.
“For some people, it may mean that if they want to vote at a polling place in their city on Election Day, they may also have to register for work.”
Job applications can be made at www.aec.gov.au/electionjobs.
Mail-in ballot applications closed at 6:00 pm on Wednesday.
The job is not attractive, says ex-manager
Michael Knowles told ABC South Australia that he was the Ceduna polling booth manager during the March state election and had to do up to 40 hours of unpaid work in the run-up to the day.
He said the job he had to do for the South Australian Electoral Commission was not attractive and he was not surprised that the Australian Electoral Commission was having difficulty finding workers.
“I spoke with the other seven people that I had working with me that day and I also spoke with people from Wirrulla, who was also on their list,” he said.
“I’ve also talked to people in Smoky Bay and a couple of other places.
“None of them are interested in going back to do another election, state or federal.”
University of Adelaide professor emeritus of politics and international relations Clem McIntyre said he had never heard of unstaffed voting booths.
He said the only time that could have happened was during the Spanish flu pandemic.
“It is very, very unusual that the electoral commission cannot find enough people to fill the booths that people are used to going to,” he said.
Port Pirie Mayor Leon Stephens said the shortage of poll workers was “quite alarming”.
“We have heard that there is a huge shortage and a lot of training is going on in the weeks leading up to this election,” he said.
“I’m guessing from what my sources tell me that it’s been exhausted from Adelaide to the Grey’s estate, and that makes it a bit different.
“I think when you move people from the countryside to organize, they get things done, and when you try to organize from afar, it’s not as easy as expected.
“And I imagine that’s exactly what the election commission is finding out right now.”
Aware , updated