Voters quick out of blocks with record early turnout


More than 100,000 Queenslanders have already cast their vote, in an unprecedented turn out on day one of early voting.

The latest Electoral Commission of Queensland figures revealed that as of 3.30pm on Monday more than 3 per cent of the state's 3.3 million voters had already cast their ballot.

Comparatively, about 11 per cent of all votes were lodged at pre-polling centres at the 2017 state election.

But the historic surge in voters heading to the polls early could leave some with "buyer's remorse" and perhaps over time result in the unceremonious natural death of the democracy sausage sizzle, according to a Queensland political analyst.

Griffith University political scientist Dr Paul Williams said the popularity of pre-polling, escalated amid coronavirus fears, had altered political messaging and the timing of major announcements.

Voters lining up to cast their votes in Burleigh on Monday. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Voters lining up to cast their votes in Burleigh on Monday. Picture: Glenn Hampson

He warned some early voters could be left with "buyer's remorse" as they would miss the party's policy costings and any potential major gaffes made by either leader within the next fortnight.

With the move to "election periods" instead of "election days", by the ECQ's estimates just 30 per cent of voters could be left to cast their ballot on October 31.

Dr Williams argued this could mean the modern tradition of the democracy sausage sizzle, which community groups use to fundraise on Election Day, could fizzle out.

And voters shouldn't expect any more major policy announcements from the Labor or LNP camps.

"It may be the case that the sausage sizzle dies a natural death," he said.

"What we've really seen this year is, even before the writs were issued, the big announcements have been made … the parties have front-ended the campaign."

The popularity of early voting follows the trends of recent elections, including Queensland's local government election in March, the first poll held in Australia amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The ECQ found, in its local government election report, that more than 1.2 million Queenslanders attended an early voting centre at the 2020 local government elections out of more than 3.2 million voters, an increase of 158 per cent compared to the 2016 council election.

There were snaking queues at early voting centres around the state early on Monday morning, including in Townsville, as people, particularly those rusted on to their preferred parties, cast their vote.

Retiree Lee McNicol said she and her husband were quite done with seeing the politicians on her street corner campaigning and listening to the cars "barping" as they went past, opting to vote early to get it off her mind and to skip the queues.

Alex Simmons, who lives in the marginal Thuringowa electorate, pointed to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and said she had done a good job keeping Queensland safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want this lady back in so I'm going to vote for him (Aaron Harper)," he said.

Several voters in Brisbane City yesterday said environmental policy was also a contributing factor in their vote with many ticking the box for the Greens.

Adelaide Lucy Sines, 23, from Corinda, said increasing education costs, social justice and the environment were issues affecting her vote.

"I also volunteer for 3rd Space, which looks after the homeless, and we saw the worst fallout in the way that was handled during COVID," she said.



Originally published as Voters quick out of blocks with record early turnout