A wasteful tradition could become a thing of the past at local government elections in one Northern Rivers shire.
A wasteful tradition could become a thing of the past at local government elections in one Northern Rivers shire. Renee Albrecht

This shire could scrap one election-day tradition

IT MAY be as much a part of democracy as a sausage sizzle.

Ducking and weaving between candidates' supporters on election day is something Australian voters are all too familiar with.

But Ballina Shire Council will attempt to scrap the practice of handing out "how to vote" cards at the gates of polling places at the next council election in 2020.

Cr Ben Smith moved a motion that the council writes to the State Electoral Office and Local Government NSW advising the council wanted this material inside polling booths only at this week's council meeting.

"It's a waste of paper," Cr Smith said.

"I certainly feel bad trying to shove that material in someone's face."

Cr Smith said the practice of distributing "how to vote" papers at the entry to polling places was outdated.

"It would be great if we could be a little bit progressive in our approach to democracy," he said.

While many voters might try to avoid candidates' volunteers like the plague, Cr Phillip Meehan said he'd experienced people asking for his own "how to vote" flyers.

"I understand what Ben's saying," he said.

"I understand also ... running the gauntlet.

"It can be complicated but I just think it's part of our mechanisms and it's part of how elections are held in our nation."

Cr Eoin Johnston said the process was "demeaning" for candidates and unpleasant for the public.

"It's an insult to some of the people you have to harass," he said.

"They are running the gauntlet. It's just not a decent way to be running our elections.

"Most of them have already got their minds made up anyway."

Cr Keith Williams opposed the motion, saying the cards were "one of the primary ways (candidates) communicate with the public".

The motion was carried 8-2, with Mayor David Wright, Deputy Mayor Nathan Willis and Crs Phillip Meehan, Sharon Parry, Jeff Johnson, Eoin Johnston, Stephen McCarthy and Ben Smith supporting it.

Crs Keith Williams and Sharon Cadwallader voted against the motion.



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