Australia — Voting in some districts in the South Australian election in March could be postponed if catastrophic bushfire conditions are declared.
South Australian electoral officials have met police and fire authorities to discuss arrangements should catastrophic fire conditions prevail on the March 20 polling day.
Electoral commissioner Kay Mousley said as a last resort she could delay voting in any area of the state for up to 21 days.
With the Liberal Party closing the gap on the Labor government, any delay in key seats could prevent a clear-cut result on election day.
‘We have held initial talks with fire authorities and police to discuss what steps may need to be taken if a catastrophic fire day is proclaimed on March 20 or in the event of a major fire or other disaster on election day,’ she said.
‘In a catastrophic fire situation, there are parts of the state where it could be too dangerous for people to travel about to vote, while some polling places may also be considered too dangerous to open.
‘We are working with police and fire authorities to determine the best response, while keeping the safety of the public in mind.’
Ms Mousley said she would monitor the situation across the state in the week leading up to the election and would be guided by fire and police authorities.
The polling date is considered to be the shoulder of the fire season but only two years ago Adelaide sweltered through a record two-week heatwave that stretched into mid-March.
Ms Mousley said that if a decision was made to adjourn voting in parts of the state, it was likely to be done on a district by district basis.
‘It would be unlikely that metropolitan divisions would be affected, but there are districts across the Adelaide Hills and regional areas where the situation may be very different,’ she said.