TOODYAY will join at least 82 other WA local government councils and go postal for the next shire elections, due in October.
Councillors voted 6-2 last month to spend an extra $10,000 for the WA Electoral Commission to run Toodyay’s shire council elections on Saturday October 21.
This means voters will no longer have to travel to the Toodyay shire office in Fiennes Street or the Morangup community centre in Wallaby Way to vote ‘in person’ at a ballot box on election day.
Instead, they will receive ballot papers in a reply-paid envelope delivered to their homes or post office boxes, and have about three weeks to return their votes by post.
The envelopes will also contain information about each candidate and instructions on how to cast a vote.
The WA Electoral Commission says a State-run postal ballot – which will cost Toodyay about $25,000 – generally attracts a higher turn-out than ‘in-person’ voting.
Shire CEO Stan Scott recommended the change, saying voter turn-out among the shire’s 3256 electors at the 2015 election was only 29.8 per cent.
The WA Local Government Department says voters – including those who own, rent or lease local properties, or own land in the shire but live elsewhere – have until Friday September 1 to check to see if they are enrolled at their correct address to receive a voting package in the mail.
Shire Deputy President Therese Chitty said she hoped Toodyay would lead the way in the Avon Valley with a higher voter turn-out because “we want more people to vote”.
For the second time in two years, a majority of seats on the nine-member council will be up for election.
Nominations for candidates open on Thursday September 7 and close a week later on Thursday September 14.
Councillors are elected for four-year terms, with roughly half the Toodyay council going to the polls every two years.
Five vacancies were filled two years ago, but a further fifth vacancy was created this year by the resignation of former East Ward councillor Kate Wood, who was elected in 2015 but moved to the Mid-West in May.
Four other councillors whose seats fall vacant this year are Shire President David Dow (Central Ward), Deputy President Therese Chitty (East Ward), Cr Paula Greenway (West Ward) and Cr Brian Rayner (North Ward).
In the East Ward where two seats fall vacant, the candidate with the most votes will win a four-year term, and the second placegetter will serve two years – the remainder of former councillor Wood’s four-year term.
If only two East Ward candidates nominate, both will be automatically elected and lots drawn to see who serves the shorter term.
Toodyay’s shire president and deputy are chosen in a secret ballot by a majority of councillors every two years at the first council meeting after the shire elections.