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Queensland election: 50,000 postal votes declared invalid

Decision 2020

Postal votes are still trickling into the Electoral Commission ahead of tomorrow’s deadline but a record 50,000 have already been rejected.

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The pandemic dramatically increased the number of postal votes being requested and issued, with more than 740,000 already returned and scrutinised. About 82 per cent of postal votes issued by the commission have already been returned, which is in line with the proportion completed at the 2017 election (when only 367,000 were mailed in).

But with the larger number of postal votes has come a larger number of rejections – about 50,000 so far, for a range of reasons including not being signed or witnessed. It remains to be seen whether this could potentially affect any of the four closest contests.

Of the 900,000 applications for postal votes, around 100,000 people chose to instead vote in person or by telephone. Combined with the number of rejections, that means the late wave of postal votes is smaller, having dwindled to around 2,000 votes arriving at the commission on Friday. The deadline is 6pm Tuesday.

From tomorrow, the commission will be able to finalise the count and the distribution of preferences, leading to all 93 seats being declared. This will set other events in train.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk needs the declarations to be able to finalise her Cabinet, which already has the factions arguing over the spoils. Cameron Dick will remain treasurer, and deputy Steven Miles is expected to keep the health portfolio, however other senior posts, and the budget committee, need to be decided.

The Liberal National Party is also in a state of flux, yet to finalise the Opposition leadership team for Queensland’s first four-year term. Gold Coast MP David Crisafulli and Toowoomba MP David Janetzki are the front-runners.

However, any factional negotiations or party-room votes could still depend on the outcome in the four closest contests.

On latest count, Labor’s Tom Smith was still leading the LNP incumbent David Batt in Bundaberg, but only by around 500 votes.

In Nicklin, LNP incumbent Marty Hunt was holding on against Labor’s Robert Skelton, as was LNP colleague Michael Hart in Burleigh against Labor’s Wayne Bartholomew. Both races hinged on about 1000 votes.

In Currumbin, the LNP incumbent Laura Gerber, who only won the seat in a by-election earlier this year, was about 1500 votes ahead of Labor’s Kaylee Campradt.

Parliament will resume at the start of December, when Dick will deliver the state budget.

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