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Mailing it in: One in four Queenslanders apply to vote by post in election wild card

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Candidates will need to make their case early – and perhaps wait longer to find out if they have been heard.

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The number of applications for postal votes has already passed the 807,000 mark. With 3,377,473 people enrolled to vote, and some still expected to skip the election, that means one in four votes could be cast by mail.

By contrast, at the 2017 state election closer to one in 10 Queenslanders lodged postal votes. This year, concerns over COVID-19 accelerated the pre-existing trend towards early and distanced voting at the council elections and two state by-elections.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland has also, for the first time, allowed pre-poll voting on the Saturday before the October 31 election, and every day from Monday. For the first time, a minority of voters may actually venture out to a polling booth on the last day of the campaign.

The deadline for the return of postal votes is 5pm on Tuesday, November 10, meaning the result in close seats may not be known for almost two weeks after the election. If the overall result is still in doubt, the current caretaker period could end up lasting more than five weeks – not including any negotiations over a hung parliament or minority government.

For the record 597 candidates – only 69 of whom are not representing a registered political party – only adds to the pressure to make their case early.

On the hustings, this has factored into the major party strategies. While the Liberal National Party has foreshadowed releasing its policy costings in the final week of the campaign – as is customary – Labor, openly intending to borrow to fund its platform, claims the LNP is planning cuts and sackings that will be kept secret from early voters.

The LNP, meanwhile, distributed postal vote application forms with a reply paid envelope providing the party with an opportunity to collect applicants’ details. It also saved applicants the cost of a stamp, although they could have applied online for free.

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