Election staff shortage causing headaches

Headshot of Elena Morabito
Elena MorabitoKalgoorlie Miner
Shire of Dundas president Laurene Bonza.
Camera IconShire of Dundas president Laurene Bonza. Credit: Carwyn Monck/Kalgoorlie Miner

Norseman has resolved its polling place staff shortage for Saturday’s Federal election, but concerns remains in Ravensthorpe and Laverton.

Shire of Dundas president Laurene Bonza said they had “dodged a bullet”, with the Australian Electoral Commission sending three staff members to the town, allowing pre-polling to take place.

Ms Bonza said two of them had agreed to stay until Saturday to ensure locals could cast their ballot on the day, alongside a local who had put their hand up to fill the team.

She said few locals offered to help with polling because the polling place had changed from the town hall to the local school.

“Our polling place is our town hall which works really well, it’s central, everybody knows to go to it, it’s easy to get to right middle of town (and) great access for anyone with mobility issues,” Ms Bonza told the Kalgoorlie Miner.

She said the AEC had decided to host the polling station at the school since the 2019 Federal election, which was difficult for people to access with mobility issues, along with not having amenities for staff to have a break.

“They’ve got a toilet and stuff nearby, but if they want to make a cup of tea or something, there’s no facilities for that. If they bring something for lunch that they wanted to heat up . . . there’s no facilities for that,” Ms Bonza said.

She said she had turned down the offer to be a staff member because of the location, even though she had worked “at every State and Federal election since 2007”.

Shire of Ravensthorpe president Keith Dunlop said he had last heard from the AEC on Monday, who had asked the Shire to find additional staff members.

Cr Dunlop said the Shire had asked various people, but none were willing to help on election day.

Having lived in the area for more than 20 years, Cr Dunlop said he could not recall a time where staff shortages at polling stations had been an issue.

“What about Lake Grace or any of those places, Jerramungup? They probably have (a polling station) but it’s a long way to drive,” Mr Dunlop said.

Shire of Laverton president Pat Hill said he was seeking information on whether there would be staff shortages, but said it was “concerning” to not have enough staff “at the last hour”.

“It’s a bit of concern to us but hopefully it will be resolved later this afternoon or later on today,” Cr Hill said on Thursday.

“I hope so anyway because we’ve got a lot of elderly people in town, and they want to vote. It should have been sorted out before this, it’s disappointing.”

The AEC this week also identified potential staffing problems at polling places in Hopetoun, Leinster, Coolgardie and Somerville in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

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