The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) has increased its collaboration with local governments in order to provide Queenslanders with better tailored elections. 

The ECQ has said that engagement with local government is one of its key priorities as it prepares for local government elections on 16 March.

Electoral Commissioner, Pat Vidgen, said that he is confident these elections will be the most collaborative local government elections delivered by the ECQ.

“Since the 2020 elections, the ECQ has been working to reframe its relationship with the local government sector under the guidance of its Local Government Engagement Strategy,” Mr Vidgen said.

“The ECQ has proactively consulted all 77 local governments in Queensland about how we can deliver electoral services that suit their individual community needs.

“We recognise there is no one-size-fits-all approach to election design, and engagement with councils is helping to build our understanding of how we can provide the right combination of electoral services to the diverse communities across the state.” 

The ECQ’s engagement program has included face-to-face and online meetings, correspondence, surveys and operational engagement on service design for each council. 

Additionally, early advice about expected costs of election delivery and key cost drivers were provided to each council in April 2023, as the ECQ recognised the need for councils to carefully plan their budgets at a time when financial sustainability is a core consideration.

In 2023, the ECQ also established a Local Government Elections Advisory Committee to provide a local government perspective on planning and preparations for the 2024 elections. Convening quarterly since March 2023, the committee held its fourth meeting in December.

Committee members represent various parts of the local government sector and provide input and advice on issues to be considered during election planning.

Core to the success of election delivery is the temporary workforce responsible for delivering the elections across Queensland.

Recruitment of over 150 returning officers and assistant returning officers and a staged program of face-to-face training for these officers is nearing completion.

Returning officer training is designed to equip staff with the information, skills and knowledge they need to deliver a successful election in their local areas. 

“Communication is always the backbone of a successful election, and we have emphasised the importance of the connection between returning officers and chief executive officers of councils,” Mr Vidgen said.

“I am confident that the training for returning officers is the best it has ever been and will further strengthen our relationship with local governments.” 

The next major staffing milestone will be the recruitment of the 10,000 temporary election workers.

Expressions of interest are now open for a range of positions, with casual employment opportunities available for enrolled Queenslanders either before, on, or after election day.

The ECQ released the indicative timetable for the elections well in advance of the election period to ensure councils, candidates, and other electoral participants are able to plan effectively for the elections.

Election day has also been changed to 16 March 2024, to ensure the elections were not held at the same time as the Easter weekend or school holidays. This is important for Queensland electors and council alike to ensure maximum turnout.

Scheduled dates for the 2024 local government elections are:

  • Notice of election — Monday 29 January 2024
  • Candidate nomination period — Monday 29 January to 12pm Tuesday 13 February 2024
  • Ballot paper order draw — Wednesday 14 February 2024
  • Postal vote application period — Monday 29 January to 7pm Monday 4 March 2024
  • Early voting period — Monday 4 March to Friday 15 March 2024, excluding the weekend
  • Election day — 8am to 6pm Saturday 16 March 2024
  • Deadline for return of postal votes — Tuesday 26 March 2024.

The election timetable will be officially confirmed when the notice of election is issued.

With the commencement of the election period approaching, the ECQ has said that it is confident it is ‘election ready’ and that its planning process has been well informed by its consultation with local governments.

“The ECQ’s local government engagement approach has been broad ranging but, at its core, it is about communication.

“We are working hard to establish an enduring relationship with local governments so that we can maintain connections with the sector throughout the electoral cycle, not just every four years.

“With these foundations laid, the ECQ is looking forward to delivering a successful election for local governments across Queensland on 16 March 2024.”

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