Council elections: Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday

Bega Valley Council election day is happening this Saturday, December 4. Voting on the day will take place from 8am until 6pm.

Polling locations will be open to all voters, regardless of vaccination status. All voters will need to wear a mask, unless they hold a valid exemption, the must check-in using the Service NSW App and are asked to bring their own pen for hygiene reasons.

Pre-poll voting has already opened for residents as part of the government's COVID-safe plans to carry out the election. Pre-poll venues in Bega, Merimbula, Bermagui, and Eden are open until 5pm on Friday December 3. Pre-polling is open at Bega Grace Church, Merimbula Twyford Hall, Bermagui Community Centre, and Eden Library.

On Saturday December 4 people can vote at their nearest polling location. These include: Bega Valley Public School, Bega High School, Tathra Public School, Brogo Public Hall, Candelo Public School, Tanja Hall, Quaama School Of Arts, Cobargo School Of Arts, Wyndham Public School, Bemboka Memorial Hall, Wolumla Memorial Hall, Tura Marrang Library & Community Centre, Merimbula Public School, Pambula Public School, Towamba Public School, and Eden Marine High School.

The iVote online operator assisted telephone voting will be open until 6pm on December 4. Applications to use iVote are open until 1pm on election day for people who meet the criteria, such as those who live more than 20 kilometres from a polling venue. Find out more at www.registration.ivote.nsw.gov.au.

Voting in the NSW Local Government elections is compulsory. The fee for not voting is $55 and can increase to $65 if referred to Revenue NSW.

Bega Valley voters will be asked to vote for their choice among 18 confirmed candidates to fill nine positions on the council. You must number at least five boxes on your ballot for it to be considered valid.

There will also be a referendum question to be answered with a Yes or No: "Should the Bega Valley Shire have a popularly elected Mayor from 2024?"

The referendum is also compulsory for enrolled voters. If passed, it is binding on council and will take effect at the next local government elections.

Many of the candidates responded to Australian Community Media requests for their position on a number of issues. The topics were selected as the five key areas as highlighted by our readers in an online poll.

- For candidates' Climate and the Environment, and Affordable Housing viewpoints, click here

- For their take on Heritage and Timber Bridges; Finance; and Public Infrastructure,click here

We also gave them leave to make a final "pitch" to voters on whatever topic they felt of most importance in seeking your vote. Read them here

There are understandable changes to the way voting is being conducted this year as the state continues to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For more on how to vote safely and what measures are in place this week, click here (BYO pen!)

Candidates and their supporters are not permitted to hand out how-to-vote material within 100 metres of polling booths this year. There will be representatives on hand if you do have queries.

Instead, we've been able to gather a bunch of candidates' suggestions on how they wish you to vote. (see the gallery below) However, remember how you cast your vote is entirely up to you.

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This story Council elections: Everything you need to know ahead of Saturday first appeared on Bega District News.