News State New South Wales NSW election up in the air as counting gets underway
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NSW election up in the air as counting gets underway

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The prime minister turned up to vote at the Silvania Heights Public School with candidate Eleni Petinos (centre). Photo: AAP
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Counting has begun in a NSW state election polls all predicted would be one of the closest in living memory.

With only six seats standing between Gladys Berejiklian’s government and the opposition benches, the beleagurered premier was out to snaffle every vote she could get.

And one of those was Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who marked his ballots in Silvania Heights  — one of more than four million voters who turned to decide the state’s political future.

Mr Morrison made his way through a group of children and voters as he accompanied the Liberal candidate for the seat of Miranda, Eleni Petinos to the polling booth inside a local public school.

New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian, who holds the seat of Willoughby by a margin of 24.5 per cent, says she’s yet to consider what she’ll do if forced into a minority government.

Ms Berejiklian was accompanied by a media scrum as she voted on Saturday morning at a booth inside Willoughby Public School.

Polls suggest the coalition will lose several seats and is at risk of being reduced to a minority in the lower house, but the Liberal leader said she hadn’t thought about that prospect.

“All I’ve been focusing on is continuing to deliver for the people of this great state,” Ms Berejiklian said.

More than 2200 polling booths around the state opened at 8am on Saturday.

Nearly 1.1 million people took advantage of early voting, with about one-in-five making their decision at pre-poll centres or via the post, internet or telephone.

Ms Berejiklian said there was “no way” her government had been perfect.

“Is there more we could have done? Of course, there is but … I know (NSW) will be much better off if they choose to vote Liberals and Nationals today.”

A Keep Sydney Open representative heckled Ms Berejiklian about lockout laws as she approached the crowded entrance to the voting centre.

“Unlock this city, Gladys!” he yelled.

After voting, the premier was faced with her second big decision of the day – a sausage sandwich or the cake stall.

In the end, a box of cupcakes won out.

“My staff will love them,” she said.

Meanwhile, across town, the state’s opposition leader Michael Daley kicked off election day at House of Pie in Matraville, before going to the Chifley Public School in Malabar with his wife Christina and children Olivia and Austin.

Mr Daley has had his “lucky pie” since he ran for local council in 1995.

“Your mum makes a good pie,” he told the children of the pie shop’s owner on Saturday morning.

The kids gave Mr Daley a piece of encouragement, writing him a note saying “Good luck Michael” with a drawing of a heart.

“This is the day that the people of NSW get to take their lives back after eight years of a chaotic government that’s taken them for granted,” he told reporters.

“We have worked as hard as we can. It’s been a long campaign. Now it’s all in the hands of the voter.”

After voting, Mr Daley went straight to the barbecue and ordered two sausage sandwiches for his kids and banana bread for his wife.

He said it had been a long four months of campaigning since replacing Luke Foley as leader in November.

He defended his poor showing in the final week of the campaign, having stumbled through a leadership debate and being forced to apologise over comments about Asian immigration caught on video at a pub forum.

“We are human, we make mistakes, but the most important thing is you pick yourself up,” he said.

Mr Daley acknowledged the polls had been “neck-and-neck” during the entire campaign, but it was hard to predict the outcome.

But he believes concerns about light rail and stadium redevelopment was enough to sway voters against the Liberal-Nationals government.

“They’ve run a very negative campaign because they have no story to tell,” he said.

The coalition government is trying to win its third straight election, while Ms Berejiklian is seeking to become NSW’s first female premier elected in her own right – having replaced Mike Baird in 2017.

Gladys Berejiklian is aiming to become the first popularly-elected female premier in NSW history – and based on the latest polls, it’s a possibility.

A special Newspoll, published in The Weekend Australian, suggested the coalition is ahead of Labor 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.

If replicated in a uniform swing, Ms Berejiklian would lose six seats but be able to secure government with the support of one crossbench independent.

Polling booths are open until 6pm on Saturday.

-with AAP