An independent Northern Rivers local government representative is calling for the introduction of online voting.
Tweed Shire Councillor Pryce Allsop told The Echo this week he intended to run again in the next NSW local governments, after first winning a seat in local government in 2016.
Cr Allsop confirmed he had a running team as part of his campaign but was delaying the annoucement of names thanks to the second postponement of elections announced over the weekend.
‘The dynamics of that team may change by December,’ Cr Allsop said.
The NSW local government minister had twice postponed council elections in response to pandemic concerns, most recently the COVID 19 outbreaks in Greater Sydney and subsequent lockdown in July.
The delay until 4 December meant local government representatives across the state, having already worked in their council roles a year longer than the usual four-year term, would serve another three months.
Cr Allsop said it was likely to be very warm, if not hot, in the immediate lead-up to the new election date and on voting day.
‘I understand the concerns and reasoning behind the date change but feel that there needs to be and should be a real change from the polling booth voting model,’ Cr Allsop told The Echo.
Independents disadvantaged under current voting system, says Tweed cr
‘It is a difficult landscape for independents trying to field crews across the numerous polling booth sites,’ Cr Allsop said, ‘I, for the record, would like to see voting be integrated in to a online system supported by the option for mail votes’.
The independent councillor said both remote voting options were needed to accomodate those unable or unwiling to use cyber technology.
A manageable and easy-to-navigate system was necessary, Cr Allsop said, one that allowed ‘equal presence for all candidates’.
‘The platform itself could certainly offer a greater opportunity to provide candidate information to the public,’ he continued, ‘and create a more even playing field for independents hard-pressed to promote their stand and viewpoints’.
Cr Allsop said contrary to views held by some in the commmunity, he was not and had ‘never have been a member of any political party’.
‘I think councillors should be independent,’ he said, adding that local government representatives from ‘established political parties’ had electoral paraphernalia that carried over for years, effectively giving them an advantage in terms of managing campaign budgets.
Rumours about Cr Allsop’s political party connections were similar to those that had circulated for at least as long as the current extended local government term about independent Byron Shire Councillor Alan Hunter and independent Ballina Shire Councillor Sharon Cadwallader.
All three independents have repeatedly refuted accusations from some in the public of party influence on their politics.