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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Small communities: check where you can vote this year

Janet Cavanaugh outside the Whiporie Hall

Whiporie loses its booth – who else is at risk of being left out? 


Greens candidate for Clarence and Whiporie local, Janet Cavanaugh, has demanded the reinstatement of the Whiporie polling booth at this year’s state election.

‘I was shocked when I heard that Whiporie is not listed as a polling place for the election this month,’ Ms Cavanaugh said. ‘There are several other booths where the vote was lower.’

‘The loss of the Whiporie polling place is not yet widely known in my community. If the booth is not reinstated, the NSW Electoral Commission needs to take the effort to notify the whole community and inform us of the alternatives. 

‘Whiporie has always had a polling place. Since the school’s closure in the late 1960s, voting has been held at the Whiporie Hall,’ she said. ‘Hiring fees paid by the Electoral Commission are used by the Community Trust to maintain and upgrade the Hall.

‘Whiporie is a small, isolated community. It is a 30-kilometre drive from Whiporie to Lawrence, the nearest other booth. For those people in the Gibberagee, Banyabba, Mount Marsh and Camira Creek areas who already have to drive 10 or 15 kilometres to get to Whiporie, it is a substantial extra distance to travel. 

Alternatives to voting at a polling place include postal voting, iVote and pre-poll voting in Grafton and Casino for two weeks before election day, and in Maclean for 3 days before election day.

‘Everyone in this area would qualify for iVote but many people do not have the internet access to register for this option,’ she said. ‘Many people simply don’t drive into town that often or, if they do, it’s after hours.’ 

As well as disadvantaging locals, Ms Cavanaugh pointed out that another group of voters who would be affected by this decision are truckies and travellers with caravans.

‘Whiporie Hall is located on the Summerland Way. Being highly visible on a major road, it is often used by absentee voters. It is one of the few polling places with parking nearby for semi-trailers and caravans. 

‘A semi full of cattle would not be welcome to park outside the busy booth in Turf Street, Grafton. But where else would truckies be able to vote?’ she asked. 

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