Ahead of election day on Saturday, May 18 there remains more than two weeks of intensive political campaigning, which will include official party launches, two leaders’ debates, and billions of dollars-worth of election promises.
The Australian Electoral Commission on Monday opened 220 pre-polling stations, with the plan to grow the number to just over 500 before election day, when the number of stations will expand to 7000.
And while there are nominally rules on who can and cannot vote early – such as being outside your electorate, travelling or in hospital on election day – an AEC spokesman said the commission did not vet voters.
“At the end of the day, the voter that attends a pre-poll voting centre judges the situation – the AEC does not vet people.”
“If people require an early vote they are provided with an early vote.”
And Dr Sheppard suggests voters will gladly skip election day festivities if it means they can tune out for the rest of the campaign.
“The vast majority of us have long known how we will vote. If you already know, it makes perfect sense to get voting over and done with and tune out of the rest of this fairly tedious campaign.”
There were 22 seats that clocked over 1200 early votes on Monday – slightly more than one in a hundred people from each electorate – and of those seats, more than half were in Victoria.
Victoria 2018’s state election had record early voting numbers, with almost 40 per cent turning out before the main day.
The most first day early voters came from the south Victorian seat of Flinders, where Health Minister Greg Hunt is under threat. Labor candidate Josh Sinclair’s chances were significantly boosted by the decision of former Liberal MP Julia Banks to quit the party and challenge Mr Hunt following the ousting of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr Abbott’s Warringah, a wealthy electorate that has received national attention on the back of a tough challenge from independent Zali Steggall, had 1425 early voters.
A streak of marginal Queensland seats also saw high early voting counts: Herbert received 1414, Fairfax had 1169, and Dickson, where Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is a serious risk of losing his seat to Labor’s Ali France, has had 1343 early votes.
Inner-city electorates Sydney and Melbourne had 1786 and 1721 early ballots respectively.
Max is a journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.