COVID-19 WORRIES: ECQ considers limiting scrutineers

HOW votes will be counted and whether the full complement of scrutineers will be allowed to oversee counting will be decided on Thursday.

The Electoral Commission wrote to candidates yesterday telling them it was considering a range of tight measures including banning scrutineers from initial counting at polling stations on Saturday.

ECQ said the aim would be to allow scrutineering only at the "official count" which would be on Sunday, March 29.

Other measures the ECQ said it was considering included banning scrutineers from polling stations while polls were open but allowing them to inspect ballot boxes and observe processing of declaration envelopes after polls shut.

Another restriction was to limit the number of scrutineers to one per candidate at the final count.

 

Scrutineers are likely to be banned on Saturday after polls shut but limited on Sunday vote counting. PHOTO: JUDITH KERR
Scrutineers are likely to be banned on Saturday after polls shut but limited on Sunday vote counting. PHOTO: JUDITH KERR

Under the current law, each candidate can have up to five scrutineers at the count.

Other measures included allowing scrutineers to observe from a specified distance of 2m or on a rotational basis, subject to the needs of individual counting locations in line with current health directions.

It was also considering allowing filming the final count and other activities where a scrutineer may be present, subject to the available technology and resources.

Mayoral candidates Stewart Fleming, Paul Taylor, Darren Power, John Freeman and Brett Raguse have all questioned the measures.

Mr Fleming said he was concerned that the overall results would not be accurate or would lead to legal challenges after the election.

"I think these are very last-minute measures and should have been decided a week ago," he said,

"People are scared to be scrutineers given that we don't know what the measures are," Mr Fleming said.

"There have been some highlights of camaraderie during this time of crisis but overall, the results on Sunday will be questionable given the restrictions created by COVID-19 and the number of people who are not expected to vote."

Originally published as COVID-19 WORRIES: ECQ considers limiting scrutineers

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