Esperance voters head to the polls early

Party volunteers in Esperance assist early voters. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Party volunteers in Esperance assist early voters. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

Esperance voters are increasingly casting their ballots early, with almost 2000 people having already voted in the federal election by Tuesday.

According to the Australian Electoral Commission, there were 16,127 pre-poll votes cast in O'Connor by the end of the day on Tuesday, May 14.

In Esperance, 1965 people had cast their votes, with three days of early voting still available.

At a comparable time in the 2016 federal election campaign, 1342 Esperance voters had already voted.

In Albany, 6633 voters had already cast their ballot by Tuesday, and in Collie 1496 people had voted.

The Kalgoorlie site has been open for an additional week, and had received 4160 pre-poll votes.

Liberal incumbent Rick Wilson said early voting had surged since he first ran for election in 2013. He said he believed the early voting period was now too long.

Mr Wilson said such a long pre-poll period placed a lot of demand on volunteers and meant new candidates lost an opportunity to get their message out.

"As the incumbent, I've been campaigning for three years. I'm in a position where people know who I am and they either like me or don't like me by now," he said.

"But I think it probably disadvantages the challengers because people don't wait to find out who else is on offer before they vote."

Mr Wilson said the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters should examine early voting after the election. He suggested a week-long voting period.

"The ability to pre-poll early does give busy people or people with something on the option," he said.

"But, I think two weeks across six booths and three weeks in Kalgoorlie is probably too much.

"I think there is plenty of time in a week for people to find some time either before or after work, or if they're leaving on a holiday, time to drop in and vote."

Mr Wilson estimated there would be between 3000 and 5000 postal votes, in addition to pre poll votes.

An O'Connor Labor campaign spokesman said the party had also seen an increase in demand for early vote support and pre-polling how-to-vote cards, especially in Kalgoorlie and Albany.

"It means that polling day for a lot of people is up to three weeks before the traditional Saturday, so your campaign strategy needs to reflect that," he said.

Mr Wilson thanked the pre-poll volunteers across all parties and said he had observed a friendly atmosphere among the volunteers.

"It's nice to see that people can vote for different parties or represent different parties, but not be uncivil about it," he said.

Early votes will be counted on election day, May 18.