Victorian council elections will proceed as planned on 24 October after the State Government decided safety and security concerns warranted postal voting.
It will be the first time that all Victorian councillors will be elected via postal ballots, though many municipalities have held postal votes for previous elections.
The Municipal Association of Victoria had urged the state government to postpone the elections by 12 months, saying councils were most concerned about health and safety risks as well as the potential for incumbent councillors to be unfairly advantaged in their campaigns.
Local Government Minister Adem Somyurek said Victorians had a right to a democratic say on who represents them.
“By making every vote a postal vote, we’re ensuring this vital democratic process is conducted in a safe manner that also allows for the participation of more voters,” Mr Somyurek said.
MAV President Coral Ross said now that the decision had been made, it would be critical that the State work with councils to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to protect the health of residents, candidates, electoral officers, council officers and scrutineers.
“Coronavirus has thrown up a raft of difficult challenges, but councils have stayed focused on delivering essential services, supporting their communities in an extraordinary variety of ways, organisational recovery, and future planning,” Cr Ross said.
“It is frustrating that these efforts will now be distracted by the cost and challenges that come with planning for and holding elections.”
The 2020 council elections are expected to be Victoria’s biggest election ever, with over 4.5 million voters enrolled and over 2000 candidates expected to nominate.