Regional poll workers have said understaffing and last-minute training put voting booths under stress in Saturday’s federal election.
They said it was further exacerbated by a lack of Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) job advertising and the timing of the election with farmers’ seeding schedules.
Three days before the election, the AEC published a list of 76 regional polling places in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland at risk of closing due to staff shortages.
That list included Nyabing in WA’s Great Southern region, where two of the four staff were hired at the last minute. The site was intended to have six polling staff.
“The workload was a lot more [than previous elections],” issuing officer Jill Kent said.
“We all did a 14-and-a-half-hour day. The supervisor worked longer because he had to take the votes to Katanning [60 kilometres away].”
She said Nyabing, which has a population of about 30, was barely equipped to deal with voters pouring in from other polling sites.
“We had a lot of people from outside our area — from Katanning, from Gnowangerup and Dumbleyung,” Ms Kent said.
“All the people from Katanning said the queues were far too long there.”
An AEC spokesperson declined to be interviewed, saying, “While there was understaffing at some of our polling booths around the region, every planned polling place was open on election day, and the voting process ran smoothly for the overwhelming majority of voters”.