Early voting for the Sunshine Coast elections.
Early voting for the Sunshine Coast elections.

Older voters face fine pressures amid virus isolation

READ: ISOLATION, CORONAVIRUS FEARS DISRUPT LOCAL ELECTION

THE Electoral Commission Queensland insists people who don't cast their ballot still risk fines for failing to vote, as coronavirus concerns grip the state.

It comes as elderly Coast residents seek alternatives to venturing out on election day this Saturday, and risk contracting the virus which has swept the globe.

Eighty-six-year-old Aroona resident Shirley Phipps said she'd made up her mind that she wouldn't vote in this weekend's council elections, until some last-minute assistance enabled her to cast her vote by phone.

MORE COVERAGE OF CORONAVIRUS ON THE SUNSHINE COAST HERE

She said it'd been difficult to track down advice or contact numbers for the phone voting, which she said would appeal to many older voters currently self-isolated to protect themselves.

"There's a lot of people scared today," she said. "The numbers (of cases) have really jumped."

DETERMINED: Shirley Phipps, 86, managed to cast her vote via phone.
DETERMINED: Shirley Phipps, 86, managed to cast her vote via phone.

She said she'd seen the effects of polio during the war, and faced the threat of measles and small pox, but hadn't seen anything like the coronavirus.

"Young people need to take care and stay more isolated than they are," Ms Phipps said.

"It's going to be a real recession."

STAY INFORMED ABOUT THE SUNSHINE COAST AND NOOSA COUNCIL ELECTION

An ECQ spokesman said voting remained compulsory for all Queenslanders over the age of 18, and those who didn't vote "may receive a fine" when asked what approach would be taken given the pandemic.

The spokesman said the ECQ had "provided a range of options for voters" which included extended early voting hours and an expanded telephone voting service.

Should the 2020 local government elections be delayed due to COVID-19?

This poll ended on 29 March 2020.

Current Results

Yes

67%

No

32%

I'm not sure

0%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The spokesman said the election was considered "essential" as the voting allowed local government to form and make decisions about the provision of essential services.

"People need governments now more than ever," the spokesman said.

PRESSURE: Shirley Phipps, 86, and daughter Jennifer Swaine. Ms Phipps has faced pressures to cast her vote amid coronavirus.
PRESSURE: Shirley Phipps, 86, and daughter Jennifer Swaine. Ms Phipps has faced pressures to cast her vote amid coronavirus.

"The Queensland Parliament passed urgent legislation last week which provides additional emergency powers for the Minister for Local Government to suspend or terminate the elections, should this be necessary based on health advice."

Late Monday Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe confirmed more than 500,000 people had pre-polled around the state.

Ms Phipps said she was glad to have sorted her issues.

"I'm pleased to have voted, I didn't want to get a fine," she said.

To check eligibility for telephone voting call 1300 912 782.

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