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SA hospital patients to miss out on voting in state election

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The SA Electoral Commission will not offer hospital patients the opportunity to cast their ballot on Saturday due to COVID-19 safety concerns, with those admitted from today also missing the cut-off to conduct a postal vote.

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In a communique to Central Adelaide Local Health Network staff last week, seen by InDaily, SA Health said the SA Electoral Commission (ECSA) had “advised that voting will not be provided at hospital sites prior to, and/or on polling day for the election”.

The decision, which impacts all South Australian public hospital patients, means those admitted from today and who are yet to cast their ballot will miss out, as 5pm today is the cut-off for the receipt of postal voting applications.

“The Electoral Commission has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working with the Department for Health and Wellbeing (SA Health) on how they can deliver a safe and appropriate voting service,” the communique said.

“Being admitted to hospital will be a valid and sufficient reason for not voting and no fine will be incurred for patients in hospital at this time.”

ECSA has previously provided voting services for ambulant patients who are unexpectedly admitted to hospital and who wish to vote.

In its communique, SA Health said the decision not to offer hospital voting this election was made following health advice.

“We had early discussions with the Electoral Commission of South Australia regarding mobile polling at hospitals before ECSA made the decision to not proceed with this voting option,” a spokesperson from SA Health said.

An ECSA spokesperson said the commission had taken “unprecedented steps” this year to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot safely.

“Hospitals are high-risk settings with strict visitor policies,” the spokesperson said.

“During the current COVID outbreak – in consultation with SA Health – it was agreed that in the best interests and for safety of patients and staff, these voting services would not be provided at this election.”

South Australia yesterday reported 3122 new COVID-19 cases – the highest daily total since January 20. The number of new infections increased by 742 on the previous day.

Hospitalisations have also increased to 136, of which 10 are in intensive care and two are on ventilators.

 

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