2017 has been a big year for the Commission with both the March State general election and the October local government ordinary elections breaking all sorts of records. In addition, the Commission has conducted numerous other elections and provided early voting services for elections in other jurisdictions, including New Zealand.
The State election involved 16 registered political parties and a total of 717 candidates, compared with just 7 parties and 456 candidates at the 2013 election. Over 200,000 more electors voted in comparison to the previous election.
In another record we saw a massive increase in the number of electors who attended an early voting centre before polling day – up 166% to 214,242.
On a pleasing note, the informality rate for Legislative Assembly ballot papers was down 25% and electors with vision impairment or some other form of incapacity could vote online in secret for the first time.
The biennial local government elections this year also saw a significant increase in the number of candidates contesting the record number of elections being run by the Commission, rising to a total of 1,146.
The big news from the October local government elections, however, was the very pleasing improvement in the voter turnout figures. Almost across the board, councils saw an increase in the number of electors choosing to vote at these voluntary elections. While there is still room for improvement, State-wide average participation in local government postal elections increased from around 27.5% in 2015 to 34.5% this year.
Voter turnout was higher in most of the mayoral elections conducted by the Commission, with councils such as Cottesloe, Claremont, Fremantle, Mosman Park and Subiaco all recording figures above 40%. The cities of Fremantle and Cottesloe had turnout rates above 47%.
The Shires of Mount Marshall and Victoria Plains (West Ward) achieved the highest postal vote turnout rates across the State, both recording 81%.
The Commission has also been busy managing elections for various unions and private sector organisations, conducting ballots to elect executive officials and board members.