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City council election to go ahead despite coronavirus

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The supplementary election to fill former Adelaide City councillor Houssam Abiad’s vacant seat at Town Hall will proceed as planned, the Electoral Commission says.

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Candidate nominations opened on Thursday for the central ward seat, which has been left empty since January when Abiad resigned to start a new job in Saudi Arabia.

A spokesperson from the Electoral Commission of South Australia (ECSA) told InDaily today the supplementary election, to close on May 11, “will continue as scheduled” despite the introduction of measures to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“As the election is conducted by post, there is minimal risk to voters,” the spokesperson said.

“ECSA is considering special measures for the handling of returned ballot envelopes to minimise any risk to ECSA staff.”

The spokesperson said the commission was considering how staff could handle the ballot envelopes in a hygienic way.

“We might, for example, let them sit for a while before we start processing them, but we’re not looking at any material impacts to the election at this stage.”

Ballot material will be sent to eligible voters in the central ward from April 21.

Confirmed nominees include former Property Council executive director Nathan Paine, former Deputy Lord Mayor and 2018 Lord Mayoral candidate Mark Hamilton, Greens political advisor Malwina Wyra, and History Trust of SA chief executive Greg Mackie.

Paine last week called on the council to provide every resident with $200 to spend at small to medium retail and hospitality businesses in the city and North Adelaide as a means of boosting the city’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 economic fallout.

Meanwhile, Wyra has called on the council to freeze rates, provide accommodation to rough sleepers and better support casual employees who are required to take time off work to self-isolate.

Prospective candidates have until April 9 to nominate.

The Queensland Electoral Commission copped criticism over the weekend for operating polling booths at 77 local government polls and by-elections amid coronavirus transmission fears.

About 570,000 Queenslanders opted to vote by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Adelaide City Council central ward supplementary election will be conducted by mail only.

Note: An earlier version of this story said Adelaide Central Market bookshop retailer and 2018 Lord Mayoral candidate Kate Treloar had nominated for the vacant central ward seat. She has since pulled out from the electoral race.  

– with AAP

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