Inside the election office

Dean Curtis is clearly enjoying his job as election manager for the Mount Alexander Shire Council election.
Staffing the election office set up in Castlemaine’s Ray Bradfield Room to help oversee this month’s postal ballot, Mr Curtis is no stranger to the important role.
It’s a task he’s willingly shouldered before for a previous local government election, plus a couple of council by-elections, and the Mount Alexander Shire local admits it’s a process he enjoys.
“It makes democracy happen,” he says.
“It’s seeing something completed in a reasonable timeframe with the added challenge of having to be accurate,” adds Mr Curtis who outside this role works as a private drug and alcohol counsellor and trainer.
He also teaches brass to primary school students and plays euphonium with three bands – the Maldon Brass Band, Thompson’s Foundry Band and the Castlemaine Brass Quintet.
He checks the data and informs the Express that there are currently 17,083 voters enrolled to vote in this month’s postal ballot that will determine the make-up of Mount Alexander’s new council.
Ballot pack mail out starts today and ends on Thursday with voters then tasked with electing three new councillors for the Castlemaine Ward for which 11 candidates are standing, along with one new councillor for Loddon River Ward, which has three contenders, plus one councillor for Tarrengower Ward where two candidates are standing.
In the council’s remaining wards of Coliban and Calder, incumbent councillors Christine Henderson and Tony Cordy are both set to be returned unopposed when the results are formally declared on Friday November 13.
While this is Mr Curtis’s second stint as local government election manager, he has previously held similar roles for both state and federal elections.
“It helps if you’re a little bit OCD,” he says, outlining some of his duties.
“It’s receiving nomination of candidates, receipt of the ballot material, marking off of the roll of those who have voted, extraction of the papers from the envelopes and then sorting and counting,” he says.
For the moment things in the local election office in Castlemaine are pretty cruisy.
“We’re not overly busy yet because it’s a postal vote so we’re not running early voting centres or physical sites, and because people can’t travel overseas they’re not looking for early voting,” Mr Curtis says.
The main query they’re fielding so far has been from locals keen to confirm they’re on the roll.
Voting closes 6pm on Friday, October 23 and as the time to do the all-important count arrives the pace steps up.
“At the count everyone wants a result straight away,” the local election manager says.
“Six or seven more staff will be put on for three days but it’s not three consecutive days because we allow a week for the post to get through.”
Business Mount Alexander, in partnership with Shedshaker Brewing, is hosting a virtual ‘Meet the Candidates Forum’ this Thursday October 8.
BMA has invited all candidates for Castlemaine Ward to participate in the forum to be live-streamed from the Taproom and hosted on the Castlemania Facebook page and BMA website. with residents able to catch the live-stream from 7.30pm Thursday.

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