THE final 30,000 votes are to be cast today (October 17) as the ACT’s three-week, covid-careful election comes to a close at 6pm.
For the past three weeks a record 70 per cent of the electorate has opted to pre-poll at an increased number of voting locations across the ACT.
Given the huge popularity of electronic voting, Elections ACT says the pre-poll count and some indicative preference voting will be known with an hour or two of the polls closing this evening.
Voters face a clear choice: Labor leader Andrew Barr has campaigned on the promise of jobs and his party’s 19-year experience in government. Liberal leader Alistair Coe’s policy focus has been on families, cost-of-living and the promise of a fresh, new vision for the capital.
While political experts and pundits differ on who the likely winner will be, all agree – as do the major parties – that the voting outcome will be very close.
The decision to increase the number of Legislative Assembly members to 25 at the last election, in practice, appeared to limit the chances of an independent being elected.
So, is this election the chance for some new faces? There is a view that Labor, after nearly 20 years in government, has lost some popularity and disaffected voters unwilling to switch to the Liberals might look to see what other choices they have.
There is some momentum for former Liberal Opposition Leader Bill Stefaniak’s Belco Party in Ginninderra, where an opportunity has risen with the retirement of veteran Liberal frontbencher and former Speaker Vicki Dunne.
David Pollard, is fancied as an outside chance as an independent in Yerrabi, where Labor poster girl Meegan Fitzharris dominated the last election. Ms Fitzharris resigned last year and was replaced by Deepak-Raj Gupta, whose seat is viewed to be the most vulnerable of Labor’s three.
Community leader Fiona Carrick is standing in Murrumbidgee, where Greens stalwart Caroline Le Couteur is retiring. Miss Le Couteur won the seat in 2016 on a razor thin margin of around 300-votes. The Greens are not expected to hold the seat following last year’s redistribution that added the suburbs of Deakin and Yarralumla to Murrumbidgee.
To take government, the Liberals will have to win an extra seat in Yerrabi (Alistair Coe’s electorate) and Murrumbidgee, where former Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson topped the territory for votes last time.
The “CityNews Sunday Roast” will provide a complete post-election analysis with commentary from Prof John Warhurst, Dr Michael Moore and former Chief Minister Jon Stanhope on 2CC, 9am-noon tomorrow.