WAGGA residents will be forced to cough up more than half a million dollars in fines for not voting in the council election.
More than 10,546 locals didn't both to vote, either on election day or in the fortnight beforehand at the pre-poll centre, which will attract a $55 fine.
Anyone who doesn’t pay the fine could have their drivers licence or car registration suspended or cancelled by the State Debt Recovery Office.
One Glenfield resident went to the effort of heading to the polling booth only to decide the $55 fine was worth abstaining from the vote.
Re-elected councillor Paul Funnell said the high number of residents who failed to vote or voted incorrectly was due to a combination of insufficient advertising, voter apathy and election fatigue.
“The bloke came in, asked how much the fine was for not voting and when we told him it was $55 he said he’d pay the fine and just walked off,” Cr Funnell said.
“Another lady at the Wesley Church Hall polling booth said she didn’t know the election was on, she hadn’t received anything in the mail.
“Clearly a lot of people didn’t know the election was on, which suggests it wasn’t advertised well enough.”
The council election was staged just two months after the federal election.
“In the last five years, we’ve had to vote at two local elections, a state election and two federal elections,” Cr Funnell said.
Charles Sturt University history and politics lecturer Troy Whitford observed decidedly little election paraphernalia in the lead up to polling day.
“The election was very low key in many respects,” Dr Whitford said.
“Some people weren't sure whether it was compulsory ... a long time ago you had to be ratepayer before you could vote.
“There weren’t any public forums either.
“Twelve years ago I hosted a forum at the Wagga Leagues Club and it filled the auditorium.
“It might be worth rethinking the town hall meeting; maybe some council funding could go towards booking a hall.”