Booths in doubt

File photo.

Elisabeth Champion

More than 1000 Limestone Coast voters could be forced to travel further to make their vote tomorrow, with some Limestone Coast polling centres potentially unable to open.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) announced on Wednesday that they were struggling to find enough people to work the polls, just days out from the Federal Election.

They put out a call to Australians urging people to sign up to work on election day, saying the recruitment difficulties may lead to a relatively small number of planned polling places being unable to open on the day.

The booths at Carpenter Rocks, Coonawarra, Nangwarry, Rendelsham, Southend, and Furner are among those that may be affected.

Coonawarra local Jo Brand lives close to her local polling booth, and said she hoped it would be available for her tomorrow.

“I will be disappointed if it’s not, because I don’t have to go far and I haven’t been well, so to go out and line up would not suit me at all,” she said.

In the 2019 Federal Election, 205 people voted at the Coonawarra polling centre.

In total, the six booths in question were visited by 1090 people in 2019.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said in a statement that the vast majority of the nation’s planned 7,000 polling places will be in operation.

“While the impact will likely be limited, and limited to certain areas, voters in identified regional locations who have not accessed an early voting centre, or postal vote, may not have a polling venue in their town on election day,” Mr Rogers said.

“Recruitment difficulty is exactly what we advised could occur, both earlier in the pandemic and in the early stages of the election period, and why we’ve been urging people to assess all voting options.”

“Current labour shortages in regional areas have been well documented. No frontline service has been immune to resourcing difficulties and we’re running the nation’s biggest in-person, manual event.”

The electorate of Grey, which covers Eyre Peninsula, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie and the Yorke Peninsula also has many polls which may not open tomorrow.

To check the availability of local polling booths, visit the Australian Electoral Commission website prior to heading out to the polls.