Spike in postal votes could delay Australia poll results

Canberra, May 3 (IANS) The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on Tuesday warned that a spike in postal votes could delay results of the May 21 general election.

The AECrevealed it has already received 1.54 million applications for postal votes with 18 days until polling day, up from 1.5 million total in the 2019 campaign, reports Xinhua news agency.

It is mandatory for people aged 18 and older who are on the AEC’s electoral roll to vote in the election either by postal ballot, at a polling place on election day, or at an early voting centre from May 9.

Counting of in-person votes begins when polls close on May 21, with results usually known on the same night.

However, because postal votes are not counted on election day the AEC said a record number would delay results in close electorates that could decide the result.

“We got about 1.5 million postal vote applications last election. If the curve does flatten like we think, maybe that will end up at something like 1.7 million to 1.8 million this election,” AEC media director Evan Ekin-Smyth told the media.

“We don’t count any postal votes on the night. And if you have some close seats, you’ve got fewer votes counted, you’re less likely to get an indication on them.”

The AEC has introduced safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at polling booths in an attempt to encourage as many people to vote in person as possible.

All staff will be required to be fully vaccinated against the virus while the capacity limits on voting centres will be introduced.