How to vote if you have COVID: Isolation rules change to allow telephone voting in Federal election

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Peter LawThe West Australian
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VideoMore than 200,000 people may be unable to cast a ballot at the federal election.

Anyone who is in isolation with COVID will be able to vote in Saturday’s Federal election by telephone following a major backflip — three days after The West Australian revealed infected voters could miss out.

On the morning of the final day of a six-week election campaign, the Australian Electoral Commission has expanded the telephone voting service to anyone who has had COVID since 6pm on Friday, May 13.

As reported by The West Australian earlier this week, there were fears about 50,000 sick West Australians could miss out on the opportunity to vote on Saturday.

Before Friday’s backflip, only those who tested positive after 6pm on Tuesday were eligible to vote by phone but anyone else still in isolation on election day could only vote by post.

Applications for postal votes closed at 6pm on Wednesday and those who did not apply by this deadline were ineligible to vote.

Labor first raised their concern with the AEC on Tuesday night but it has taken until the eve of the election for eligibility for telephone voting to be expanded.

“We have analysed the service’s take-up so far, our staffing levels and forecasts for use, and are in urgent discussions with Government about the concerns expressed by members of the public,” electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said in a statement.

“This morning I have signed a brief recommending for the eligibility for the service be expanded.”

In an interview soon after on 6PR, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, campaigning in Perth’s marginal electorates on Friday, confirmed the Government had approved the change.

The loss of thousands of votes in WA’s marginal seats, such as Pearce and Hasluck, would have potentially impacted the result on election night.

In a national contest that the polls suggest is narrowing, one or two electorates could determine whether or not either of the major parties forms a majority government.

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