With less than 24 hours to go before the Queensland local council elections some pre-polling places are seeing wait times of up to 20 minutes.
The lines are expected to be longer on election day tomorrow. Just days ago the electoral commissioner told ABC radio it would take most people three minutes to complete the process.
“We’ve put in a whole lot of measures to make it as quick and safe as possible, in voting centres we’ve spaced things out as much as we can,” electoral commissioner Pat Vidgen said.
“We’ve got some data from last week and this week, we estimate once you get into a polling centre, particularly if you bring your voter information card, you are in and out of that centre in three minutes.”
Current health advice about “close contact” amid the coronavirus pandemic says there is a higher chance of the virus spreading if you are in face-to-face contact with someone for at least 15 minutes.
One pre-poll voter at Nambour told 9News that when he went to vote, others were not respecting the social distancing laws.
“People were handing out how to vote cards without gloves and most certainly coming well within social distancing,” he said. “It made me really nervous how poorly prepared the polling station was when it comes to mitigating COVID-19.”
Another voter told 9News their voting location in Redland City had run out of hand sanitisers and there was no one carrying out extra cleaning measures.
Voters in Townsville who went to polling places early today had a similar experience.
“I was trying to get away from everybody so I didn’t have to do it while everyone was here but that’s not the case today,” Kayla from Mudlo said. “I didn’t feel very comfortable [bringing my baby along] because there’s so many people.”
“I personally didn’t see any sanitising facilities, if there is I didn’t see it labelled anywhere. It certainly wasn’t made clear,” Dave from Bushland Beach said.
It comes after a video of Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) officers ignoring social distancing messages was leaked to 9News.
The video recorded inside an ECQ Brisbane call centre and sent to 9News Brisbane shows a packed-out office, with workers sitting two to a computer, leaning around partitions to talk to one another.
These call centres were set up to handle the influx of phone votes from people who did not want to risk voting in person amid the coronavirus pandemic.
One worker has told AAP that she and others walked out of the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) call centre on Thursday, fearing they could become infected.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said conditions were cramped, with staff working in pairs inside small cubicles to process phone votes.
“The cubicles are no more than 1.5 metres wide,” the woman said.
She said there were about 120 people crammed into the centre at any given time.
The Electoral Commission of Queensland is expected to provide an update on the situation later today. The Gold Coast Medical Association and senior doctors around the Gold Coast have called for the poll to be postponed.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland has also expressed disappointment that postal voting was not extended.