More than $1.64 million in fines will be issued across the Illawarra after residents put in a mass no-show at this month’s council elections.
Around 23,000 people failed to vote in Wollongong, and each will be slugged with a $55 fine unless they can produce a valid excuse.
NSW Electoral Commission figures show just 83 per cent of Wollongong’s 135,468 eligible voters turned up to cast their ballot at either a polling place, at pre-poll or through a postal vote. Taking polling day figures in isolation, the turnout rate in Wollongong dropped to just 71 per cent.
An Electoral Commission spokesman said it was pleased with both the polling place and overall turnout, saying it was a “very reasonable” result for a local government election. He said the unavailability of absentee voting in local government elections could reduce overall turnout figures by 10 per cent.
Almost 7000 people failed to cast a vote in Shellharbour, but voter turnout was slightly higher than Wollongong at 84.6 per cent.
But voter attendance across Wollongong and Shellharbour was markedly less than the average Illawarra turnout at the state poll, in which 93.8 per cent of people cast a vote.
Of those who did vote in the Wollongong council election, a seemingly high number of invalid, or “informal” votes were cast.
Informal votes occur when the ballot paper is left blank or is filled out incorrectly.