FAQ - COVID-19 and the 2020 election

Updated 26 Aug 2020

The ACT Electoral Act was recently amended (on the 9th of July 2020) by the Legislative Assembly to introduce a requirement for the Electoral Commission to publish candidate information statements.

Candidate information will be made publicly available online after the declaration of candidates for voters to view during the election period.

Yes. All ACT electors are eligible to vote during the 3-week early voting period to allow smaller numbers in a polling place at any one time, for COVID-safety. Locations for the early voting centres will be advised as part of the ACT Electoral Commission’s 2020 ACT election public information campaign to inform electors. They are located in town or suburban centres close to local shopping facilities to allow electors to vote when on regular outings. Electronic voting is available at all early voting centres, offering voters a more COVID-safe option. Paper ballots will also be available.

The early voting period opens on 28 September, 2020. During the voting period, early voting centres will open 7 days a week at the following times:

  • Monday to Thursday - 9am to 5pm, including the public holiday on Monday, 5 October;
  • Fridays – extended hours of 9am to 8pm.
  • Saturdays and Sundays - 9am to 5pm.

82 polling places will be open on the final day of voting, Saturday 17 October from 8am to 6pm.

The locations of early voting centres will be published in the first election information brochure which is sent to all ACT households in mid to late September as part of the ACT Electoral Commission’s 2020 ACT Election public information campaign. These locations will also be displayed on the Elections ACT website. A second election information brochure will be posted out to all ACT households in mid-October.

To make the 2020 ACT election a COVID-safe election for everyone involved, the ACT Electoral Commission has made a number of changes to the way the election is run. These include:

  • An amendment by the Assembly to the Electoral Act making all ACT electors eligible to vote during the 3-week early voting period which commences on Monday, 28 September with early voting centres open 7 days a week;
  • Increasing the number of early voting centres and extending their days and hours of operation to avoid large numbers of voters in a polling place at any one time;
  • Providing additional electronic voting at all early voting centres as a more COVID-safe method of voting;
  • Encouraging social distancing amongst voters in queues and within the polling place through queue controllers and social distance markings;
  • Placing hand sanitiser for voters at the entry and exit of voting centres. Staff will also regularly use hand sanitiser during the course of their work;
  • Placing issuing point tables 1.5m apart to allow correct social distancing amongst electors and staff;
  • Installing sneeze guards at issuing tables to keep voters distanced from staff and to prevent the spread of infection;
  • Providing single use pencils for electors using paper ballots;
  • Locating voting screens to allow for social distancing whilst voters cast their vote;
  • Conducting regular cleaning in all polling places with disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces including e-voting touchscreen monitors, voting screens and issuing tables;
  • Placing prominent signs at polling places encouraging voters to take COVID-19 precautions including staying at home if they are unwell;
  • Providing COVID-19 safe waste disposal services at each polling place; and
  • Providing staff with emergency advice on dealing with COVID-19 at polling places.

Electronic voting screens will be wiped down with disinfectant spray by e-voting officers after each use. Voting screens will also be fitted with a plastic covering which will allow for cleaning of the touchscreen as well as the voting booth surface. Officers will be instructed to clean surfaces regularly and no less than after every 10th voter.

Voters who wish may wipe down the screen themselves with wipes provided.

Based on current health advice, staff at voting centres will not be instructed to take people’s temperatures when entering a polling place. Elections ACT continues to work with health authorities to monitor the COVID-19 situation and may consider taking additional preventative measures to protect staff and voters consistent with emerging expert advice.

If an elector has a health concern and is unable to attend an ACT polling place or early voting centre, they are eligible to apply for a postal vote.

If an elector has a health concern and is unable to attend an ACT polling place or early voting centre, they are eligible to apply for a postal vote.

The ACT’s Electoral Act only provides for online voting for electors who are overseas at the time of the voting period. It does not allow for any other scenario in which electors can cast a secure and private vote over the internet.

The Commission remains cautious regarding the introduction of internet voting for all electors at ACT elections. Online transactional databases are at risk of technical failure and potential interference by unauthorised persons or organisations.

Information regarding waiting times for all voting centres will be displayed on the Elections ACT website during the voting period from Monday, 28 September to Saturday, 17 October.

For electors who are required to quarantine or self-isolate, applying for a postal vote is the safest option to cast your vote in the ACT election.

For a delivery address within Australia your application must be received by Elections ACT no later than 5 pm on 15 October 2020. However, Elections ACT cannot guarantee that you will receive your postal ballot papers if you leave it until this cut-off to apply. It is best to apply as early as possible.

If your circumstances mean that you could not apply until the final two days of postal vote application, then Elections ACT will seek to use Express Post to try to get your postal vote material to you in time.

Early voting will be available to all electors from Monday 28 September – 16 October seven days a week (with extended hours on Friday). If you were unable to attend an early voting centre during this period and now need to self-isolate, you may still able to apply for a postal vote. Applications for postal voting close at 5pm on Thursday, 15 October. However, Elections ACT cannot guarantee that you will receive your postal ballot papers if you leave it until this cut-off to apply. It is best to apply as early as possible.

If your circumstances mean that you could not apply until the final two days of postal vote application, then Elections ACT will seek to use Express Post to try to get your postal vote material to you in time.

Elections ACT will not be providing mobile polling services for this election. Instead, Elections ACT will liaise with eligible institutions to provide postal vote services for the residents of these facilities. Extra precautions will be taken when delivering and receiving postal vote material to minimise risk of COVID-19 transmission.