Polling booths open

Polling booths open

Polling booths in East Gippsland opened this week to allow easy access for early voting, ahead of the May 18 Federal Election.

For the first time an early polling booth has been established at the Lakes Entrance Mechanics Hall.

When it opened on Monday morning, there was a steady stream of voters ready to fill out their ballot papers.

Wendy Price and her husband, Frank, from Lake Tyers Beach, were among the Monday morning voters.

Mrs Price said the couple was keen to vote early to avoid the crowds.”

Doug Nash, from Lakes Entrance, also voted early.

“It’s a good thing if people want to vote early they can, instead of everyone walking in on the same day,” Mr Nash said.

Another voter, who didn’t wish to be identified, said he was pleased that he could now vote in Lakes Entrance.

He too had cast his vote on Monday morning “as soon as the doors opened”.

“I couldn’t be bothered queuing up on voting day,” he said.

The Australian Electoral Commission says early voting is becoming more popular with the public.

Polling stations opened in other parts of the country a week earlier and the AEC says there are already indications pre-poll voting is up from 2016.

In the first week of polling stations opening nationally, more than 660,000 people had already cast their vote compared to 315,000 in 2016.

Victoria leads others states in embracing early voting, with the trend to vote prior to election day being more popular.

In Bairnsdale, where people can also cast their votes early, there was an equally solid turnout.

During the last Federal elections in 2016, about 10,000 people voted early, although the AEC expects that number to be much higher this time around.

“In general, the rise in pre-polling is going up,” an election official told the Post.

More pre-poll centres are also being made available throughout Australia to meet the demand, although the AEC says those who do vote early are required to nominate a reason for doing so. Some of the responses available for launching a pre-poll vote include health, about to give birth, working or travelling on election day.

Those who live more than eight kilometres from a polling station are also entitled to vote early.

An AEC spokesman says the Commission never follows up the reasons people have nominated for voting early.

A record number of Australians have enrolled to vote in this year’s Federal election.

PICTURED: Wendy Price, of Lake Tyers Beach, cast her vote in the forthcoming Federal Election when the doors opened at a new polling station in Lakes Entrance on Monday.