Phone voting legislation is public interest says, Independent MP

Tuesday February 08, 2022

Media Release published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell

“Public interest” legislation is at the heart of Independent MP Troy Bell’s support of an Upper House push to recall State Parliament before the March State Election.

The Independent MP will join 25 other Lower House MPs at State Parliament on Wednesday to support the passing of the Electoral (Assisted Voting) Bill 2022, which is set to pass the Upper House on Tuesday.

The Bill allows any person subject to a direction under the Emergency Management Act 2004 the right to vote by telephone, potentially affecting thousands of South Australians isolating due to Covid-19 or close contact requirements.

Mr Bell said he fully supported the Bill as it affected the rights of South Australians to vote.

“People should not be denied the right to vote due to party politics over the pandemic and a police commissioner should never have the powers to exclude people from their democratic right to vote,” he said.

“The Bill just expands the current process which is already used for vision impaired people, who are able to vote by telephone, so the mechanisms are already in place.

“Even South Australians working on Antarctica can vote by telephone so why shouldn’t people forced into isolation have the same right?”

However, the Bill cannot pass both Houses and become law, due to the South Australian Liberal Party, who have refused calls for State Parliament’s Lower House to sit before the election on March 19.
Mr Bell said party politics should not come into play on such an important issue.

“This Bill will only assist these people who are in isolation during the final 72 hours prior to the closing of the polls,” he said.

“It would come into effect after postal voting closed at 6pm on Wednesday before polling day and is limited to those people in mandatory isolation due to a positive Covid result or deemed a close contact, which would prevent them leaving their house to vote.

“The Bill also sets limits on who can access the service and is restricted to those that would not otherwise be able to vote in the upcoming election.”