Victoria’s Electoral Commissioner, Warwick Gately, has publicly congratulated the State’s voters after recording a record-breaking turnout for local council elections.
Announcing that the last results from the local council elections had been officially declared, Mr Gately said the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) capped off a number of highlights in the course of the elections, conducted as they were in exceptional circumstances associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I was very pleased with the way the community responded to the elections, their engagement with the process and in making the program a success,” Mr Gately (pictured) said.
He said the average voter turnout of 81.4 per cent was a “significant improvement” on the 2016 average turnout of 72.1 per cent and marked the highest turnout rate ever recorded for local council elections in the State.
He said voters not only turned out at a higher rate, more of them voted formally.
“The average rate of informal ballot papers across the State was 4.7 per cent, a significant decline from 6.3 per cent in 2016 (5.3 per cent in 2012),” he said.
Mr Gately said a number of factors contributed to the increase in participation.
“We engaged students to design a campaign to appeal to all voters but particularly young voters, so we’ll be looking closely at the participation of those aged 18-29,” he said.
“Going by the record numbers of phone calls, emails and visitors using our website, we are confident the messaging landed well.”
He said the VEC’s free SMS and email VoterAlert service also mobilised voters with a 109 per cent increase in the number of calls to the VEC compared to 2016.
Mr Gately said he considered the elections very successful despite one matter concerning one ward in the City of Moreland being referred by the VEC to VCAT for consideration.
“Our people and providers stood the test well,” Mr Gately said.
“I thank both them and the voters of Victoria who also came to the party,” he said.
“A win for democracy in an otherwise challenging year!”