With talk of the lockdown of greater Sydney extending beyond August and as COVID-19 infections climb, the local government elections will go ahead as planned in early September.
Pre-poll, iVote and postal voting has been expanded to allow greater flexibility and safety for voters during the current situation.
Administered by the NSW Electoral Commission on behalf of MidCoast Council, any person who is enrolled to vote may vote by pre-poll for the 2021 election.
iVote will also be available and operate in the same way it does for State elections.
Additionally, the existing eligibility criteria for those able to use postal voting has been expanded to include:
- Permanent or temporary residents in a hospital, nursing home, retirement village or similar facility;
- Anyone self-isolating because of COVID-19 related reasons, and
- Anyone who reasonably believes attending a polling place on election day will pose a risk to their health or safety of themselves or those around them, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applications for postal voting will be open from this Tuesday, July 27 July until Monday, August 30.
The deadline for the receipt of postal votes has been extended to 6 pm on Friday, September 17 pushing out the date for the declaration of the poll until as late as 6 pm on Thursday, September 23.
However, electors are encouraged to return their postal votes as soon as possible.
MidCoast Council general manager, Adrian Panuccio said council was working closely with the Electoral Commission to ensure the delivery of a COVID-Safe election.
An extensive COVID-Safe plan has been put in place by the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure the election is undertaken in as risk-free a setting as possible.Adrian Panuccio
"An extensive COVID-Safe plan has been put in place by the NSW Electoral Commission to ensure the election is undertaken in as risk-free a setting as possible," Mr Panuccio said.
Mr Panuccio said these measures included the requirement of Service NSW QR codes, larger voting venues to accommodate physical distancing, hand sanitiser dispensers and increased cleansing of screens and general areas.
Single use pens also would be handed out to those who forget to bring their own.
Meanwhile, registration for candidates is open.
Registered candidates must also nominate to have their name included on the ballot paper, with nominations opening on Monday, July 26 and close noon on Wednesday, August 4.
The NSW Office of Local Government is encouraging people from all walks of life to stand for their community to increase diversity in local government.
The Stand for Your Community - Diversity Counts campaign is targeting women, younger people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, and members of multicultural communities.
MidCoast Council has 11 councillors positions, who will serve for a reduced three year term after the 2020 election was postponed for 12 months due to COVID-19.
The future schedule of Council elections will not be impacted by this change, and the subsequent election will still proceed in September 2024.
For those residents not yet enrolled to vote, please note the electoral roll and non-residential roll closes at 6pm this Monday, July 26.
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