9230 people have already voted in Cowper

THERE'S been a strong turnout since pre-polling opened this week in the Federal seat of Cowper.

As of Friday, more than 9200 people have voted since the doors opened at four pre-poll voting booths in the federal seat, according to statistics from the Australian Electoral Commission.

The majority of those were the 3699 votes lodged at the pre-polling voting centre at 2/115 West High St, Coffs Harbour.

There have also been 3436 votes in Port Macquarie and 1968 in Kempsey.

It comes as the candidates contesting the seat of Cowper reveal where they will allocate their preferences after the official poll on July 2.

Nationals incumbent Luke Hartsuyker will again preference Christian Democratic Party, followed by the Independent candidates John Arkan and Rob Oakeshott, Labor, The Greens and the Citizens Electoral Council.

For Labor candidate Damian Wood, preferences are Arkan, ahead of the Greens and Oakeshott, with the sitting Nationals member in fifth position. the Christian Democrats and the Citizens Electoral Council have been placed last.

The Greens candidate, Carol Vernon, will preference Labor, followed by Oakeshott, Arkan, the Nationals, the Citizens Electoral Council and the Christian Democrats.

Rob Oakeshott will be distributing a variation of how-to-vote cards where preferences will be in different orders.

"People should be free to make up their own mind when it comes to how they direct their preferences," Mr Oakeshott said.

"It is a voter's choice as to who gets two and three on a ballot paper, not a party's."

John Arkan is also avoiding preferences, with his message to voters being: "Just make sure I'm number one."

The Advocate contacted Citizens Electoral Council candidate Michael Gough and Christian Democratic Party candidate Wayne Lawrence but did not receive a return message before today's paper went to press.

Polls have this year's election race in the seat of Cowper one of the closest in recent memory, with Oakeshott within striking distance of Hartsuyker.

It was a trend highlighted in an online poll on The Advocate's website that had Oakeshott 45% and Hartsuyker trailing on 41%, as of yesterday morning.

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