Councillor predicts mail-order democracy

A LONG-TIME Shoalhaven City Councillor has foreshadowed a possible change to the way we vote in local elections.

Cr Greg Watson, the longest serving councillor on Shoalhaven Council, said he could envisage a time when we may not have attend voting centres, line up to vote or run the gauntlet of people handing out how-to-vote forms.

“I understand there are changes coming to the electoral system but they haven’t made up their minds yet what exactly they are going to do,” Cr Watson said.

“I can see a possible change of the voting system where we may one day postal vote for local elections, the same system as the Victorians who currently have a postal vote.

“Rather than a traditional election the returning officer could run purely a postal election.

“The returning officer would send out the ballot papers to all eligible voters within the council area with a replied paid envelope.

“Logically, the transition might even be to electronic voting where you have to log into a website using a unique number that is sent to you.

“These are definitely the things being considered in light of the legislation change.

“It would definitely eliminate having to have polling booths, staff and people having to run the gauntlet of helpers.

“In my mind it would also provide far more equity into the electoral system and give new candidates in particular a little bit of a better chance.”

He said in previous years, local government elections had been primarily dominated by one or two people.

“It started with John Hatton, continued with myself and more recently Jo Gash,” he said.

“As soon as Jo put her hand up it didn’t matter what happened, she was always going to be elected mayor.”

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