News State NSW News Pre-poll chaos as computer glitch shuts NSW booths

Pre-poll chaos as computer glitch shuts NSW booths

nsw pre poll chaos
A sign on the door of a closed pre-polling booth on Wednesday. Photo: ABC
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Hundreds of voters are being turned away from pre-poll stations across NSW after a problem with the Electoral Commission’s computers, with one candidate describing the situation as a “disgrace”.

The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) denied any centres had closed, but that was at odds with the signs on doors at several pre-polling locations.

Voters were turned away from booths in crucial marginal electorates including East Hills, Riverstone and Oatley on Wednesday morning.

Pre-polling opened across NSW on Tuesday.

The NSW election will be held on March 23.

Long lines were reported at other centres including Lismore, Goulburn and outside the PCYC Fairfield-Cabramatta pre-polling booth.

Labor candidate for East Hills Cameron Murphy described it as a disgrace.

“Pre-poll is about making sure people can come down and vote early, just to have it not working when you have frail people, elderly people … it’s a disgrace,” he said.

Sue, a voter from Revesby, said they had about a 20-minute wait in line because of the delay.

“If somebody is trying to vote in their lunch break it would make it a bit difficult,” she said.

nsw pre poll chaos
A long line outside a pre-polling booth in Cabramatta on Wednesday. Photo: ABC

‘Performance issue’ behind delays

In a statement, the NSWEC said there was a “performance issue” with its electronic roll system that had resulted in “intermittent outages” at early voting centres.

It said activating backup arrangements to allow voters to have their names marked off on the roll “may result in a delay for some electors casting their vote”.

The commission said “no voting centres are currently closed”, but the ABC has been sent photographs of polling stations with their doors closed and signs up saying “early voting is temporarily closed”.

The ABC understands the iVote system is also down.

Voters who tried to cast their vote using the electronic system on Wednesday morning received this message: “The NSW Electoral Commission has received reports of a usability issue casting a vote using ivote … The voting system will be offline to address this.”

“We apologise for any inconvenience.”

Voters eligible for pre-poll voting have until March 22 to cast their vote.

Failing to vote incurs a fine of $55.

Some commentators have suggested up to 1.5 million people could vote early in the NSW election.

In Victoria, record numbers went without their democracy sausage to avoid the polling day queues, casting early ballots in November’s state election.

Figures show that more than 1.6 million early and postal votes were cast, accounting for 40 per cent of the votes in the Victorian election.