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Non-voters urged to 'make an effort' as pollies pay for postals

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The Electoral Commission of Queensland will ask thousands of non-voters to make an effort this time, and has sought to reassure them it will be safe.

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Parliament has been told that about 20,000 Queenslanders who have repeatedly failed to vote, including in the March council elections, “will be sent a warning letter that reminds them that voting is compulsory and of the expanded voting options available for the State general election in October 2020”.

“This approach has been carefully considered to ensure that habitual non-voters are subject to compliance action for failing to vote, while acknowledging the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It comes amid disquiet over LNP mail-outs including a postal vote application form with a reply-paid envelope to the LNP, saving the cost of people posting the form directly to the ECQ. There is expected to be a record number of postal votes at this election.

Former Democrat and Greens senator Andrew Bartlett accused the LNP of misleading voters, adding that parliaments had ignored calls to make such mail-outs illegal.

The LNP paraphernalia does not have the LNP logo but includes a green icon with the words “How To Vote Safe”.

It is not clear whether the reply-paid envelopes are funded by the party, or MPs using taxpayer-funded allowances, however all major parties use similar tactics every election.

While using the LNP as an intermediary would allow the party to collect contact information on likely supporters, an ECQ spokeswoman confirmed all postal votes would be sent directly to the applicants themselves.

The ECQ has received more than 120,000 applications for postal votes since it opened the process on Monday and expects a large proportion of the electorate to mail it in. For the first time, polling booths will also be open the Saturday before the election, coinciding with the AFL Grand Final in Brisbane.

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