NSW presses ahead with September’s council elections

Voting options for NSW’s local government elections are being widened as authorities try to bring a Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney under control.

Changes to local government regulations announced on 9 July will allow for an online option under similar circumstances to postal voting, along with broadened pre-poll eligibility for all electors, and an expansion of postal voting eligibility.

Measures to help maintain the safety and wellbeing of voters, candidates, and polling staff are also being implemented.

Any voter who “reasonably believes that attending a polling place on election day will pose a risk to the health or safety of the person, or of another person, because of the Covid-19 pandemic” will be eligible to cast their vote by post, according to the new regulations.

All residents who are enrolled to vote will be able to pre-poll vote from August 23.

Online voting, or iVote, will be rolled out for the first time in council election to vulnerable voters, including those who have a disability or are permanent or temporary residents of nursing homes, retirement homes and hospitals.

People who are self-isolating due to Covid-19 will also be able to lodge a postal vote.

The NSW local government elections were scheduled for last year but were postponed because of the pandemic. Voting is compulsory.