“The NSW government has worked closely with the NSW Electoral Commission and NSW Health to implement a comprehensive plan to allow voters to cast their ballot safely,” she said.
Mrs Hancock said the state’s election officials had also been empowered to enforce COVID-safe measures including social distancing at polling booths and counting venues to protect voters, candidates, scrutineers and NSW Electoral Commission workers.
Nominations for the council elections can now be made entirely online for the first time via the NSW Electoral Commission’s online management system. Previously, submitting nominations was a purely paper-based process.
The peak body for NSW councils said it had sought initiatives to encourage greater diversity of candidates who were standing for election.
“We still have a long way to go. NSW has the lowest female representation on council of any state, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain vastly under-represented as elected councillors,” Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said.
Cr Scott said the peak body had fought to maximise people’s voting opportunities in council elections – either in person, online or by post – and the law changes last week prevented regulations being used to thwart that.
“Importantly, the Bill only applies to the 2021 elections and changes can only be made if they are in accordance with the NSW Electoral Commissioner’s advice, and reasonable to protect the health, safety and welfare of people from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
While elections will be carried out for 124 councils, polls will not be held in four local government areas in NSW – including the Central Coast and Wingecarribee – because councils are in administration.
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