COVID-19 and the 2020 ACT election

Updated 22 Apr 2020

The ACT Electoral Commission is continuing to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the preparations and conduct of the October 2020 ACT Legislative Assembly election. We continue to be guided by the advice of the ACT Chief Health Officer in ensuring the health and safety of the public and the staff of Elections ACT.

The Electoral Commission is continuing with its preparations for the 17 October 2020 ACT election and is investigating additional measures that can be implemented to ensure the safety of electors and election workers, should this election continue on schedule.

Election Contingency Planning Team

The ACT Electoral Commission has established an Election Contingency Planning Team (ECPT) to develop contingency plans for the conduct and potential deferral of the Legislative Assembly election currently scheduled for 17 October 2020. The ECPT will inform the Commission's advice to the Assembly, political parties, candidates and the ACT community regarding the election.

The role of the ECPT is to:

  • Examine the ACT electoral environment and identify the interests of stakeholders;
  • Understand the processes related to the preparation for and conduct of the ACT Legislative Assembly elections, including the Elections ACT Strategic and Operational Risk Registers;
  • Determine and monitor the evolving federal and ACT government community health and safety directions relating to the current COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Determine the potential impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the preparation for and conduct of the ACT Legislative Assembly elections scheduled for 17 October 2020, in the three broad areas of:
    • public health and safety;
    • health and safety of Elections ACT staff; and
    • integrity of the electoral process.
  • Refine the Elections ACT risk registers related to the conduct of the elections based on an understanding of the impacts of the pandemic;
  • Develop contingency plans for the delivery of the ACT Legislative Assembly election, incorporating the refined risks and potential impacts of the pandemic, including the potential deferral of the elections;
  • Identify legislative, policy or procedural changes required to enact or enable such contingency plans for the conduct of the elections;
  • Identify any necessary financial variations to the ACT Electoral Commission’s budget to enable the electoral contingency plans;
  • Identify any sensitivities of any stakeholders related to the contingency plans;
  • Identify any necessary variations to Elections ACT ICT strategies and plans to enable the electoral contingency plans;
  • Identify any necessary variations to Elections ACT media and community engagement strategies in the light of the pandemic and related contingency plans; and
  • Provide advice and recommendations to the ACT Electoral Commission on contingency plans for the conduct of the elections, with emphasis on the early identification for any legislative amendments required to enact the contingency plans.

The ECPT consists of the ACT Electoral Commissioner (Chair), the Deputy Electoral Commissioner (Deputy Chair), the ACT A/Chief Police Officer and senior representatives from ACT Health, the ACT Solicitor-General’s office, ACT government Shared Services ICT and the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Could the election date be changed?

The ECPT continues to investigate and analyse a number of possible contingency plans for the ACT Legislative Assembly election as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The option to alter the date of the election is just one of those plans.

Section 159 of the Electoral Act 1992 provides the Executive of Government with the potential to extend the time for holding the election, or meeting any difficulty that might otherwise interfere with the due conduct of the election.

It is not within the powers of the ACT Electoral Commission to determine or alter the timing of an election.

The Electoral Commission, with the assistance of the ECPT will continue to analyse the health and legal environment surrounding the potential for altering the date for the election, and will ultimately advise the Assembly on the risks and impacts upon all electoral stakeholders, including the ACT community as a whole.

Similar advice will be provided against each possible contingency plan.

Updates

The ACT Electoral Commission will endeavour to keep the ACT community updated on any changes to the preparations and conduct of the forthcoming ACT election. Updates will be provided on Elections ACT's website, social media pages and via media releases.

If you would like to join the Elections ACT media release list, send an email to elections@act.gov.au

Contact us

Elections ACT is committed to maintaining a healthy workplace for our staff and the community. Due to the public health emergency and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 the Elections ACT physical office location is closed to the public. Customer service facilities remain available Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 5:00pm by phone: 02 6205 0033 and email: elections@act.gov.au