The New South Wales Electoral Commission have this election not sent staff to aged care homes, making it harder for the elderly community to cast their vote for Saturday’s Local Government Election. The decision means it makes it more difficult for some elderly residents to vote, leaving only an E-Vote or postal vote to have their say in the election.

Current standing Cootamundra-Gundagai councillor and board member at Adina Care, Charlie Sheahan, said the ruling will impact on members in aged care facilities. “It’s made it extremely difficult,” Charlie said. “It’s left them with the only option of an e-vote, which isn’t easy, because you have to prove identity and jump through hoops to do so.

“The other option is a postal vote, which means staff are going to have to help them fill out the paperwork and everything, which takes staff away from the jobs they are supposed to be doing.” Both Adina Care and Southern Cross Care are two nursing homes in Cootamundra which won’t have Electoral Commission staff attend the facilities. “This is a real shortfall of the government failing to fund the Electoral Commission to properly do this,” Charlie continued. Senior citizens aren’t being provided with that service and are getting treated like second rate people. It’s awful.”

This shortfall in the democratic process raises concerns with some stakeholders that the extra people and staff members involved in residents voting is detrimental to the process as voting is traditionally a very private matter. Pre-polling at the Civic Centre will close at 6pm on Friday night. Cootamundra High School and Cootamundra Public School are the two polling locations in town on Saturday, with voting open between 8am and 6pm.

The Cootamundra-Gundagai electorate has 12 candidates running to become a councillor, with 9 to be elected. Voting in the New South Wales Local Government election is compulsory for all eligible citizens aged 18 and over. Failure to vote in the election will incur a $55 fine from the NSW Electoral Commission. Tim Warren