With only a few hours left until polling booths close in the Victorian state election, and more than 40 per cent of people voting ahead of the big day, there were still complaints about long queues at some of the 2000 polling booths across the state.
Almost 2.5 million people are expected to vote on Saturday with an estimated 1.6 million voters choosing to cast their votes by the end of early voting on Friday.
Of the early votes, 250,403 were postal votes.
Polling stations were less crowded in places like Antarctica’s Casey and smaller regional and rural centres, as the Victorian Electoral Commission tweeted a photo of voters lodging ballot papers and reminded people that booths were at their busiest about 11am.
“We’ll go to the four corners of the earth to get your vote,” read the comment.
We'll go to the four corners of the earth to get your vote! Shout out to voters at Casey Station, Antarctica, who are enjoying a #democracysausage while voting (photo credit: Dale Smith) #VicVotes #EveryVoteMatters pic.twitter.com/WTe7f4jCb9
— VEC (@electionsvic) November 24, 2018
Voting centre queues are busiest around 11am – why not have a #democracysausage while you wait? Otherwise, mid-afternoon is the quietest time to vote. Use the hashtag #votingqueues to post live updates of how busy your centre is and help others avoid the crowds #VicVotes pic.twitter.com/eVginR00p6
— VEC (@electionsvic) November 23, 2018
For the first time, pre-poll votes will be counted on Saturday night at the same time votes cast throughout Saturday as soon as polling booths close at 6pm.
For Victorians heading interstate or overseas on Saturday, the Victorian Electoral Commission has also announced a polling centre will be open at Melbourne Airport at Virgin Terminal 3.
Opinion polls show the Labor Andrews government is expected to be returned for a second term while Matthew Guy’s Liberal-National coalition needs a uniform swing of three per cent – seven extra seats – to form a majority government and force out Labor.
A Newspoll published by The Weekend Australian on Saturday indicates a two-party preferred Labor victory of 53.5 per cent, leaving the Liberal-Nationals with 46.5 per cent.
Other pre-election polls published in The Age and Herald Sun have delivered similar results, predicting Labor as the winner.
Labor currently holds a one-seat majority in the 88-seat parliament, while the Liberal-National coalition is on 38 and the Greens three.
Premier Daniel Andrews cast his vote in his southeastern Melbourne electorate of Mulgrave mid-morning alongside wife Cath and plans on campaigning up until booths close.
He told Channel Nine on Saturday morning he has no plans to cut a deal with the Greens.
“We need a strong, stable majority Labor government in this state and I would urge for all Victorians to vote for their local candidate so we can keep on investing in the road, rail, and school infrastructure we need,” he said.
Liberal leader Matthew Guy has already voted, but is out and about handing out how-to-vote cards.
He chose to visit his old primary school with his parents, in a bid to help Liberal candidate Nick McGowan win the seat of Eltham.
Greens leader Samantha Ratnam, who hopes to hold the balance of power, cast her vote in Brunswick.
Mr Guy says the coalition can deliver on their “modest” promises and will help ease the cost of living and make the state a safer place to live.
“I am a pretty clear and happy to say that we can pay for what we have promised,” the state opposition leader told Seven, citing the long-term lease of the sewage treatment service for $5 billion.
He said the Liberal-Nationals would ease the cost of living and “make our state safe again”, and work on decentralising the population to take the pressure off Melbourne.
“Our opponents … are promising to double debt and increase taxes,,” he later told the ABC.
“The choice is clear – double state debt, saddle the kids with more debt, and increase state taxes, or cut taxes, as we will with payroll taxi and get new infrastructure under the Liberals.”
— Brendan Donohoe (@BrendanDonohoe7) November 23, 2018
Mr Guy wasn’t convinced Labor would be re-elected and said internal party polling showed they had a chance – again pointing to wrong polling in South Australia, Tasmania and in the UK on Brexit.
He said he wasn’t expecting the federal Liberal issues – including the controversial dumping of Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister – would have an effect on Saturday’s election.
“Canberra is a long way from Melbourne. I think Victorians will vote on issues that matter to our state.”