Early voting surge begins for WA election

·3-min read

Early voting is underway for the West Australian election, with more than a million voters tipped to cast their ballots before the March 13 polling day.

WA's electoral commission reports it has been a relatively smooth smart to proceedings despite hiccups at two regional centres.

A polling place in Karratha in the state's Pilbara region didn't get election material in time, which delayed its opening for several hours on Wednesday, while another at Moora had staffing issues which kept it closed for the day.

A further 68 early voting centres opened as planned.

About 10,000 voters are expected to cast their ballots on Wednesday, while almost 250,000 voters have applied for postal votes.

"Because there will be a lot more early votes, we will be able to access them and be ready to count effectively at 6:01pm (on polling day)," Electoral Commissioner Robert Kennedy told reporters.

"Hopefully we can get through more on the night than we have previously."

With the electoral commission encouraging early voting as part of its COVID-19 risk management plan, voters will be required to sign in at polling places using either the SafeWA QR code system or a manual contact register.

The predicted surge in early voting almost certainly plays in the Labor government's favour given its lead in the polls.

Labor has so far run a relatively low-risk campaign but any slip-ups closer to polling day could help the Liberals claw back some ground.

Premier Mark McGowan will buck tradition by also casting his vote in the weeks prior to polling day.

"If you can vote early it means you avoid the queues on election day, it means it's more COVID-safe and it's a sensible thing to do," he said.

Despite the expected surge in early voting, the Liberals have refused to submit their policies to Treasury for costing.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup said their costings will be verified in the week before polling day by an "independent source".

Labor took a similar stance when in opposition in 2017, although their flagship Metronet train network had been costed by Treasury in 2013.

Updated Treasury costings released on Wednesday revealed Labor's campaign promises will add $1.8 billion to the state's net debt over the next four years.

Mr McGowan claimed that the combined promises of the Liberals and Nationals would total closer to $26 billion.

"If they get elected at the next election, they'll bankrupt Western Australia once again," he said.

"They are risky, they are inexperienced and what they need to do is to have some sort of independent process to cost their policies."

Mr Kirkup said all of the Liberals policies were available online and had been "costed individually".

"We'll still release a few more policies over the coming weeks," he said.

"I want to make sure the final costing document that is delivered to the people of Western Australia encapsulates all of that."