GHOST BOOTHS: Full coverage as frustrated voters vent
Welcome to the Fraser Coast Chronicle's rolling coverage of the 2020 council election.
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Voting has now closed after a day of frustration for many voters.
The overwhelming response at booths in every division today was that voters felt forced to the polls and couldn't understand why the election had not been postponed amid the coronavirus crisis.
Full coverage below.
Chad Williams, 33, has lived in Hervey Bay his whole life.
Speaking to the Chronicle at the Hervey Bay PCYC he said he would like to see more jobs, especially after the recent losses, more for kids to do and activities for the youth.
He also felt the Queensland Government should have postponed the election to later this year.
"They were telling everyone to have social distancing and yet still held the council elections.
"Stopping the playgrounds from getting used was a good idea to protect the children from coronavirus.
"Government should limit movement to essential services only and go into a complete lockdown.
"Nobody is listening to regulations."
On the ground at Torbanlea voters thought were the big issues were council roads having no channelling, just bitumen and some voters expressed anger that the election had gone ahead in the current climate.
The majority of Howard voters in line thought the big issue this election was council rates being too high.
Noel Coburn, 73, was also voting at the high school but said he wasn't concerned about the pandemic.
He waited until the late afternoon when it was quiet to vote.
He said he had voted for incumbent Division 3 councillor Paul Truscott and current Mayor George Seymour.
"I'm pleased with the work they've been doing," he said.
VOTING is something Tony Russ is normally happy to do - but not today.
Rolling up to Aldridge State High School with his son Michael, he was clear about his feelings.
"I think it sucks," he said.
"It's absolutely ridiculous."
"Voting should have been made non-compulsory this time around. With the pandemic hitting the headlines, there hadn't been much of a chance to find out about candidates.
"It's just pick a name and run with it."
The Simpson family in Maryborough hasn't been thinking about the council elections either.
Davyn, Jodie and Bayden said the coverage of the coronavirus had been overwhelming. Bayden said he wasn't sure why an election was going ahead.
His dad agreed. "It's putting politics ahead of people".
KRIS and Leanne Jensen have come to St Paul's Memorial Hall to vote - but both strongly believe there should not have been an election.
The Maryborough couple have been staying at home and believe making people vote runs contrary to the instructions the nation has been given.
"If they had any brains they would have called it off," Kris said.
Leanne said they had been trying to do the right thing by staying home.
The couple were from Division 4 and said they were unsure who to vote for because they hadn't had much time to find out about candidates - they have been too busy staying up to date with the pandemic.
"We've pulled up here and we don't even know who to vote for," Leanne said.
AN EMPTY hall and a lone woman walking around with a mask over her mouth.
This is the eerie reality on election afternoon at St Paul's Memorial Hall in Adelaide St, Maryborough at a time when Australians have more on their mind.
The few who have turned up have been spared the usual gauntlet of candidates and volunteers handing out How to Vote Cards and flyers. This was band part-way through pre-polling amid the Covid-19 scare.
While the hall was briefly busy this morning, many residents in Divisions 3 and 4 already voted in recent days at the Ellena St pre-poll station.
Heavy showers are falling at the Hervey Bay PCYC where voters are continuing to trickle through.
Social distancing markers are outside and around the inside courts to ensure everyone remains at the required distance apart.
Voters at the Mungar polling booth want a council that will look after rural people and their roads.
Jan Sterling from Yerra said she was "hoping for an honest councillor, whoever is elected."
At Urraween, Ash Woods has a simple reason for turning out to the polls today.
"I am voting because I have to vote, I can't afford a fine," he said
"I believe they could have done more to make phone voting easier due to the situation."
Steve Woods from River Heads said "voting today is BS, why not let the current council stay in place for a further six months until this is over".
For Gayle Petersen, this is the only time she has left her home in weeks as she has a low immune system.
She and Shaun Doyle joined the chorus of voters venting their frustrations at being sent to the polls.
"The election should have been postponed, we have more important things to worry about at present," Mr Doyle said
"All voters should have been sent postal ballots."
Jon and Jamie Hall are voting at Kawungan State School.
"We are voting because we have to." Jon said
"People haven't been following advice and it is a concern while we vote.
"I am concerned about mixing with other people." Jamie added
Celeste Giess, 68, is at the Toogoom Communty Hall Voting Booth
She's lived in Toogoom for 11 years and told the Chronicle she voted for Jade Wellings for Division 5 and George Seymour for mayor.
"He has done a lot for Hervey Bay and is approachable to talk to," she said
"She is approachable as well and when I did Shave For A Cure, Jade turned up for it.
"I would like to see lights at the Hervey Bay/Maryborough Rd and the Pialba Burrum Heads intersection. I had an accident there eight years ago and had to be cut out of my car.
"The council putting lights in at Craignish was a good idea to stop the speeding.
"I am wearing the mask because of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and I suffer from asthma. I was also a local JP but put a stop to it due to health issues from COVID-19.
"The Queensland Government should have postponed the council election or made it online."
For Division 1 voter Stephen Nitschinsk, stability is important.
He wants the council to stay on the same path and said he was happy with the way things have been running.
Generally, voters at Sunbury State School wanted to keep stability within the Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Again, voters still didn't want to come out and vote due to the coronavirus.
There's now a steady stream of voters in Tinana where voters are again generally against the election being held. One voter said it was hypocritical of the state to tell people to stay inside, yet expect them to turn out to vote in the election.
Voter Rachael Collier from Tinana said despite the coronavirus crisis, "the election was very well organised regarding social distancing and bringing your own pen."
Polling booths in many Bay suburbs are like ghost towns.
In some areas, the lack of crowds to follow have meant the few who are turning out are wandering around schools and other sites confused about where to go.
At Urangan Point State School, the small line of people is 1.5m apart as per social distancing rules.
It's quiet at the Tiaro polling booth at 9:30am but the two people who spoke to the Chronicle said the election should not have gone ahead.
Ann Betwell from Tiaro said while the virus hadn't really affected Tiaro, the election should have been postponed.
As residents gather in Glenwood residents told the Chronicle they believe the the ECQ should have cancelled the election due to the pandemic.
Due to the concern voters were adhering to social distancing rules.
Voters have also expressed feeling frustrated about what they believe is neglect in the region's rural fringes.
One of the biggest issues raised is the quality of the roads.
Glenwood locals Colin and Dianne Day said the elections should have either been fully postal votes, or postponed until a later date.
Voters are slowly turning out for the election, with the general sentiment being that the vote should not have gone ahead during the coronavirus crisis.
Still, Bauple resident Stephen Lucas said he was not worried about voting in the election due to living regionally.
"For Bauple its not a problem because of the isolation, but the council elections should have been cancelled in Brisbane," he said.
DESPITE ongoing concerns from residents, candidates and health professionals, election day is here and voters are heading to the polling booths.
The Chronicle team is bringing you updates from the day all over the Fraser Coast.