Skip links and keyboard navigation

The Queensland Government is now in caretaker mode until after the state election. Minimal updates will be made to this site until after the election results are declared.

Use of electronically assisted voting at a local government by-election

Purpose

The purpose of this bulletin is to inform local governments of recent legislative amendments to:

  • expand the definition of ‘distance voter’ for electronically assisted voting at a local government by-election
  • include a definition of ‘voting period’ for a by-election
  • approve the Electoral Commission of Queensland's (ECQ) revised ‘electronically assisted voting procedures’ for local government elections

Background

The Local Government Electoral Act 2011 (LGEA) section 67(1)(d) provides for the casting of an electronically assisted vote in a local government election. Section 75A(1) provides that the ECQ may make procedures about how an elector may cast an electronically assisted vote.

On 8 September 2015, the ECQ made ‘electronically assisted voting procedures’ for local government elections. The procedures provided for the use of electronically assisted voting at local government elections for the following persons:

  • electors who cannot vote without assistance because of impairment or an insufficient level of literacy
  • electors who cannot vote at a polling booth because of impairment
  • electors who are 'special postal voters'
  • electors who are 'distance voters'.

The LGEA section 68(5B) provides that if a procedure about how an elector may cast an electronically assisted vote has been made by the ECQ under section 75A, an elector may cast an electronically assisted vote if the elector:

  • can not vote without assistance because the elector has an impairment or an insufficient level of literacy; or
  • can not vote at a polling booth because of an impairment; or
  • is a member of a class of electors prescribed under a regulation.

On 23 October 2015 amendments to the Local Government Electoral Regulation 2012 (LGER) commenced to:

  • prescribe 'special postal voters' (as defined in section 68(5A) of the LGEA) as a class of electors who may cast an electronically assisted vote at a local government election, pursuant to section 68(5B)(c) of the LGEA
  • prescribe 'distance voters' as a class of electors who may cast an electronically assisted vote at a local government election, pursuant to section 68(5B)(c) of the LGEA
  • insert a definition of 'distance voter' to mean an elector whose address, as shown on the voters roll, is more than 20km by the nearest practicable route from a polling booth
  • approve, as required under section 75A(3) of the LGEA, the 8 September 2015 ‘electronically assisted voting procedures’ for local government elections made by the ECQ.

What's new?

The ECQ proposed that in consideration of its strategic goal of making voting more accessible and convenient to all electors, and based on the success of electronically assisted voting at the 2016 quadrennial local government elections and State referendum and the January 2015 State general election, a further class of ‘distance voter’ be prescribed who may cast an electronically assisted vote in a by-election. Accordingly, on 15 June 2016 the ECQ made revised ‘electronically assisted voting procedures’ for local government elections to replace the procedures of 8 September 2015.

The new procedures include an expanded definition of ‘distance voter’ for a by-election and insert a definition of ‘voting period’ for a by-election. The procedures continue to provide for the following:

  • the registration of electors who may cast an electronically assisted vote for an election under section 68(5B);
  • the authentication of each electronically assisted vote;
  • the recording of each elector who uses electronically assisted voting;
  • ensuring the secrecy of each electronically assisted vote;
  • the secure transmission of each electronically assisted vote to the electoral commissioner, and secure storage of each electronically assisted vote by the commissioner, until printing;
  • the printing, for scrutiny and counting, of a ballot paper for each electronically assisted vote;
  • the secure delivery of each printed ballot paper to the returning officer.

The LGEA section 75A(3)(a) provides that the procedures do not take effect until approved by a regulation. The Local Government Electoral Amendment Regulation (No. 1) 2016 SL. No. 101 (the amendment regulation) was made by Governor in Council on 30 June 2016 and notified on the Queensland Legislation website on 1 July 2016. The explanatory notes are also available on the Queensland Legislation website at www.legislation.qld.gov.au.

The amendment regulation amends the LGER section 3 to:

  • expand the definition of ‘distance voter’ to include, if the election is a by-election, an elector who can not, for another reason, vote at a polling booth during the voting period for the by-election
  • provide a definition of ‘voting period’ for a by-election to mean the period starting on the first day that a pre-poll vote may be made for the by-election and ending on the close of the poll for the by-election.

The amendment regulation provides two examples of ‘distance voter’ for a by-election:

  • an elector who will be absent from the elector’s local government area or division of the local government area for the whole of the voting period for a by-election
  • an elector who, during the voting period for the by-election, has not yet voted and will be outside Queensland for the remainder of the voting period.

The amendment regulation also amends section 4 of the LGER to approve the ECQ procedures of 15 June 2016 as required by the LGEA section 75A(3)(a).

The procedures were tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 1 July 2016 as required by LGEA section 75A(3)(b) and are available on the Queensland Parliament website at www.parliament.qld.gov.au. The LGEA section 75A(3)(c) also requires the ECQ to publish the procedures on its website www.ecq.qld.gov.au.

Should the ECQ decide that electronically assisted voting is not suitable at a particular election, or by a class of electors, the LGEA section 75D enables the ECQ to decide that electronically assisted voting is not to be used. The decision must be in writing and published on the ECQ website.

Further information

Any further enquiries should be addressed to:

Mr Tim Dunne
Manager, Program Implementation and Review
Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
Phone: 07 3452 6743
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.