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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Ian Kirkwood

One in five have already voted says NSW Electoral Commission

'No thanks' ... more than one voter had his or her mind made up, refusing all campaign materials at this Upper Hunter pre-poll booth. Picture from Muswellbrook Chronicle

MORE than one in five voters at tomorrow's NSW election have lodged their ballots, according to the latest tally published by the NSW Electoral Commission.

With 93 seats in the Legislative Assembly and half of the positions in the 42-person Legislative Council up for grabs, the electoral commission's "early voting daily figure" stood at 1,119,121 at 9am today.

With the commission putting the total number of voters at 5,521,688, it said the early vote represented 21.72 per cent of the total.

As well, postal vote applications totalled 540,208, or 9.78 per cent of voters, with the commission having processed 92,077, or 1.67 per cent of total votes, at 9am today.

In the Upper Hunter electorate - the government's second-most marginal seat with sitting member Dave Layzell on a margin of 0.5 per cent - the pre-poll vote stood this morning at 15,991.

Some 4984 Upper Hunter voters had applied for postal vote forms, of which 921 had been returned.

Mr Layzell is defending the seat against a challenge from Labor candidate Peree Watson, a daughter of the well-known mining union official, the late Mick Watson.

The electoral commission says postal votes must be received before 6pm on Thursday, April 6, almost a fortnight after tomorrow's main voting day.

Upper House member and Minister for Transport and Roads, Sam Farraway travelled from Bathurst to support Dave Layzell's Upper Hunter campaign. Picture from Muswellbrook Chronicle

The growth of pre-poll voting in recent elections has led the major parties, especially, to "front load" their major announcements, because leaving them to the last few days risks missing the chance to influence swinging voters who have already lodged their ballots.

The 15,991 pre-polls alone in Upper Hunter represent more than 26 per cent of the seat's 59,694 voters.

In the Lake Macquarie electorate held by Independent Greg Piper, the electoral commission reports that 13,106 people had voted by pre-poll at 9am today, representing 23.6 per cent of the 55,592 enrolled in the seat.

Mr Piper has five challengers, with Labor's Stephen Ryan, a former Newcastle Herald journalist turned barrister, tipped to be his strongest opposition.

As well as the pre-polls, the commission says it has sent out 5990 postal packs to Lake Macquarie voters, with 592 of these returned so far.

Across the Hunter's seven Labor-held seats, the early voting figures are as follows:

  • Cessnock: 16,891 pre-polls, or 29.7 per cent of 56,705 enrolled. Postal vote applications totalled 3756, with 503 returned to the electoral commission.
  • Charlestown: 9556 pre-polls, or 15.9 per cent of 59,852 enrolled. Postal applications 7329 with 612 returned so far
  • Maitland: 16,496 pre-polls, or 29.9 per cent of 55,130 enrolled. Postals; 4136 with 496 returned
  • Newcastle: 11,841 pre-polls, or 20.7 per cent of 56,959 enrolled. Postals; 4769 with 687 returned
  • Port Stephens 16,129 pre-polls, or 28.3 per cent of 56,889 enrolled. Postals; 4798 with 895 returned
  • Swansea 13,456 pre-polls, or 22.6 per cent of 59,380 enrolled. Postals; 5201 with 1053 returned
  • Wallsend 10,241 pre-polls, or 17.6 per cent of 57,970 enrolled. Postals; 5189 with 671 returned

The electoral commission's full electorate by electorate breakdown is here.

Labor's Peter Fox with undecided voter at Muswellbrook's Stan Thiess Centre on March 18 when early voting offically opened. Picture from Muswellbrook Chronicle

To see more stories and read today's paper download the Newcastle Herald news app here.

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