Shoalhaven News

System crashes and anti-vaxxers at Nowra pre-poll

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The anti-vaccination crowd that hijacked Saturday's meet the ward one candidates meeting in Bomaderry also gate crashed the pre-poll voting at Nowra's Wesley Centre on Monday morning.

Cr John Wells was there at the time and said they pushed the anti-vaccination message.

"There was another party here, and that was Cr Digiglio's group, whatever their name is, and I understand that they were handing out some anti-vax brochures of some description that apparently was reported at the time, so I don't know where that's going to go," he said.

The group's decision to hand out brochures flew in the face of COVID regulations that prevented candidates handing out how to vote information to people approaching the polling station.

Several candidates feared the lack of how to vote cards might cause an increase in informal votes - particularly in the wards were people had the option of voting either above or below the line.

"I think there will be a few more informal votes because people don't have that default piece of paper in their hands when they're actually standing in a booth, and some people may misunderstand it - instead of just pitting one above the line they might go and also number below the line," said candidate Serena Copley.

Mayoral candidate Paul Green had similar concerns.

"People are coming up to me and saying, 'Paul Green, where's your how to vote?' and of course we don't have one and that's really harder for the older generation that have had generations of get my how to vote, work it out,  and go and vote," he said.

"So it's been really, I think, difficult for the older generation."

However Greens candidates had laminated how to vote information and invited people to photograph information to take into the polling station.

"The way we're doing things now is a good example of how we're going to do things in the future - no paper, able to just take a photo and go in from there," said candidate Bradley Stanton.

"I think this is a great idea and something that should go past COVID."

There was additional turmoil hitting the first day of pre-poll voting due to the Elections NSW computer systems crashing.

People wanting to check candidate details ahead of attending a pre-polling place to cast a vote were left facing a screen saying the site was undergoing maintenance, while there were also delays for people casting votes.

Pre-poll voting continues until December 3.

Image: Glenn Ellard

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