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‘Ghost town’ at voting booths while ECQ is bombarded with calls

About 1.8 million people had already voted or made arrangements to do so ahead of Saturday.

Along with pre-polling, about 570,000 people had applied for a postal vote, and 40,000 had registered for telephone voting.

A booth at Paddington is dominated by campaign signs for Greens candidate Donna Burns, who hoped to snatch the ward from LNP incumbent Peter Matic at the Queensland local government election.

A booth at Paddington is dominated by campaign signs for Greens candidate Donna Burns, who hoped to snatch the ward from LNP incumbent Peter Matic at the Queensland local government election.Credit:Lydia Lynch

The Electoral Commission Queensland reported experiencing an unprecedented volume of calls to register for telephone voting on Saturday.

Registrations closed at noon but Queenslanders had until 6pm to cast their vote.

Voter Emma Moylan said there were no lines at a Clayfield polling booth, where the process took her minutes.

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“It was a ghost town,” she said.

“I really appreciated not having people there pushing their parties onto me. I missed the sausage sizzle though.”

Ms Moylan said she was hesitant about voting on election day but was relieved by the outcome.

“I have to admit, it was a mixture of annoyance and fear at the thought of having to wait in line,” she said.

A voter walks past "how to vote" boards, in the absence of volunteers, in Brisbane.

A voter walks past “how to vote” boards, in the absence of volunteers, in Brisbane.Credit:Getty Images AsiaPac

“I also felt annoyance because of the absolute absurdity at the whole isolation and impending lockdown order, so [it was either] being forced to leave the house or face a fine.”

Mt Gravatt resident Ruby Simpson said she was surprised to find fewer than 10 people walking up to her local centre just after 3pm.

“I’ve been to vote before and it’s a nightmare but this was so easy,” she said.

“I didn’t mind voting today because I’ve been hearing about how the voting centres would be strict with social distancing, and knowing how many people had already registered for a postal vote or telephone voting meant it would be more scarce.”

Voters were few and far between at a booth in Mount Gravatt.

Voters were few and far between at a booth in Mount Gravatt.Credit:Ruby Simpson

Two men were filmed in a physical scuffle outside a polling booth in Ipswich.

At Brisbane City Hall, about 20,000 people had voted over the past two weeks, said a volunteer.

It is just one of 200 booths across the Brisbane city.

Fewer than a dozen voters were present at midday on Saturday and the city centre was largely empty.

Those that were there had covered their mouths with masks and were using provided hand sanitiser before and after voting.

An election official directs voters at Brisbane City hall polling booth.

An election official directs voters at Brisbane City hall polling booth.Credit:Getty Images/Asia Pac

The volunteer said voters had moved through quickly because there were more staff compared with suburban polling places where lines had snaked back on themselves all week.

Another volunteer said the overall number of people turning out to the hall was less than usual.

Earlier on Saturday, state Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said voting should not take long provided people took precautionary measures, including maintaining a 1.5-metre distance, and decided who they were going to vote for before they went in.

“We’ve got to remember the risk of people going to the shops is far, far higher than that, so if I could please encourage people to use similar strategies when going to the shops,” she said.

– with Michael Doyle, Sonia Kohlbacher, AAP

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