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One more day to vote for new mayor

Claudia Baxter

GYMPIE voters may know by Tuesday who has been elected regional mayor, after counting of ballots on Saturday night and Monday.

Mayor by-election returning officer Ken Garner says counting will begin immediately he closes his office at 6pm tonight.

Although voters have until February 17 to get their votes back to Mr Garner's office at 11 Tozer St, Gympie, he says two-thirds of ballots have been returned already.

"We've had 21,860, votes back, out of 32,699 voters," he said just before noon yesterday.

For those who have lost their ballot material, he says he will keep his office open today, from 8.30am, so people can call in and get another one, even though the Electoral Commission of Queensland says he does not have to.

Mr Garner says he sees it as an obligation in circumstances where some voters might easily have mislaid their postal ballot.

The mayor by-election is compulsory and people who fail to vote will be prosecuted.

So Mr Garner says it is only fair he should stay open in case he is needed.

Concern has been expressed that some people may have discarded their ballot material, especially at a time when they were being bombarded with State Election propaganda at the same time.

A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission of Queensland said it was possible some people could have got all that paperwork mixed up and thrown their ballot papers and envelopes out with all the other material from the State Election.

Because ballots have to be filled out by 6pm today, the spokeswoman said it was not feasible to mail out new ballots to people who had lost theirs, or not received any.

They would have to pick up substitute ballots in person, she said.

Initially it was thought people would have to collect substitute ballot papers by the close of business yesterday. But Mr Garner said yesterday, he would open the ECQ office today.

Topics:  gympie mayoral by-election politics

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