In an inexplicable twist of circumstances it appears that residents of two local nursing homes have not been allowed to vote in the local council elections.
Bimbimbie Retirement Village, Merimbula and Roy Wotton Gardens, Eden are both run by RSL Lifecare and are both classed as Declared Institutions for voting purposes which means that an official would collect the ballot papers of residents able to vote.
Bimbimbie until this year, was a pre-polling location and elderly residents were able to vote on site. However the pre-poll location was moved to Twyford Hall.
Pamela Robertson, general manager at Bimbimbie said that because of the work going on at the site, “council did not come in because they thought we were closing”.
Ms Robertson said that they “tried to get a postal vote arranged but without success”. RSL Lifecare then filed a bulk excuse form for anyone in the facility.
At Roy Wotton Gardens, residents were given a form to fill in which if they did so, declared them to be mentally unfit to vote.
Councillor Sharon Tapscott’s mother Jean Stroud is a resident at Roy Wotton Gardens.
Mrs Stroud said she was given the form by staff as were other residents, they were asked to have visiting doctors complete the form and then return it to staff. Mrs Stroud did not complete the form and handed it to her daughter but said she believed other residents had the forms completed.
Ms Tapscott said: “To my knowledge the next of kin were never contacted and they gave my mother no explanation. I also want to know who gave the Electoral Commission the information that Bimbimbie was a construction site.”
The voting arrangements came to the attention of not only Ms Tapscott but also former mayor, Michael Britten who has written to the returning officer in charge of the count for Bega Valley Shire Council elections.
In a strongly worded letter, Mr Britten said he believed voters had been disenfranchised by either the Electoral Commission and/or RSL Lifecare. He said signing a form to say “the person is of unsound mind and incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting” has far reaching implications beyond voting.
The Electoral Commission was asked for a comment but has not responded.
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