Parramatta Council to write to NSW Electoral Commission about recent local government election

Long queues, untrained staff, lack of disabled access and too many polling booths.

They were some of the many issues that frustrated Parramatta councillors while campaigning at last month’s local government elections.

The council will write to Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the NSW Electoral Commission regarding the recent council election so problems can be addressed and don’t resurface at future elections.

They included long queues and delays for voters due to an inadequate number and training of electoral commission officers allocated to the Parramatta Town Hall and Epping during the final days of pre-poll and on election day. Other issues include the unsuitable locations of the Epping and Wentworth Point pre-poll and election day polling places, as well as insufficiently trained electoral commission staff at booths across the LGA.

There were also concerns about the number of polling places on election day, where some were located less than one kilometre apart. Some booths attracted less than 100 voters that day.

Councillors adopted the motion raised by North Rocks ward councillor Bob Dwyer, who shared his experiences in the final days of pre-poll at Parramatta Town Hall. “We’re not getting a fair deal from the state government when one of the two ladies isn’t trained and the queue is going out the door,” he said. “We as a council pay these people to run an election. We had a situation that was embarrassing for the community.”

Epping ward councillor Donna Davis recalled how candidates were treated like “naughty children’’ by electoral commission staff during pre-polling in her ward.

“There was no disabled access,” she said. “The nearest parking was at Coles, where people had to then walk up a steep gradient.”

Cr Dwyer conceded that many voters are disinterested in council elections.

“The habits of people have changed, they don’t want to waste their weekend lining up to vote,” he said.

“If you don’t make it an easy process, it affects the way people vote because they couldn’t care less.”