It has been just over five weeks since Tasmanian Liberal leader Peter Gutwein announced the state would be heading for an early election and now here we are: voting day.
Despite the short timeline, a lot has been packed into this campaign – we’ve lost and gained candidates, seen some seriously uncoordinated attempts at acrobatics and even found out the Liberal leader is rocking one hell of a black panther tattoo.
As of Thursday evening, the Tasmanian Electoral Commission said more than 45,000 Tasmanians had already cast their votes, and it was estimated that would grow to 60,000.
But if you are one of those people yet to cast your ballot, today’s the day.
Here is everything you need to know.
How can I vote?
You can cast your vote between 8:00am and 6:00pm at any of the 262 polling places across the state.
You can find your closest voting location here.
While most of the state will only need to vote in the House of Assembly election, the Legislative Council (LegCo) divisions of Windermere and Derwent are also going to the polls the same day.
To vote in the LegCo election, you’ll need to attend a polling place within these divisions. See here.
You’ll be handed voting cards for both the Lower and Upper houses.
When it comes to voting in the House of Assembly election, you’ll need to vote for at least five candidates – numbering them from 1 to 5 in order of your preference.
They don’t all have to be from the one party, either.
You can also choose to number all the boxes, particularly if there’s that candidate you really want to put last. Remember, your electorate will represented by five candidates, so you’re picking your fave five.
Those voting in the Upper House seat of Windermere have five people to choose between. One Labor, one Liberal and three independents.
The race is a little tighter in Derwent, with a sitting Labor member, Liberal and Animal Justice Party candidate all hoping to claim the seat.
Mersey was also due to head to the polls this year, but Mike Gaffney – who introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill — is running unopposed.
Unlike the lower house, only one person can win each seat in the Legislative Council.
Before you cast your ballot, you can find out what each of the parties stand for with our promise tracker.
Weren’t we supposed to head to the polls next year?
Yep, that’s right. Tassie wasn’t due for an election until March 2022.
Speculation had been growing for a while about whether or not Mr Gutwein would call an early election, in an attempt to capitalise on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of the four states and territories to head to the polls since the pandemic, the incumbents have proven to be the winners, with Western Australia’s Mark McGowan practically wiping out the Liberal party.
The apparent catalyst for Tasmania’s early election was maverick speaker Sue Hickey, who announced she would quit the Liberal party because Mr Gutwein had informed her she would not be preselected again.
Less than a week later, Mr Gutwein called an early election, citing a reluctance to govern in minority.
Of course, days later former Labor MP, turned Independent, Madeleine Ogilvie joined the Liberals.
But by that point the switch had already been flicked.
What are the seats to watch?
The inner-city seat of Clark, formerly Denison, which takes in the Greater Hobart area, should prove to be interesting.
Last election, Labor’s Scott Bacon and Ella Haddad won seats. Mr Bacon resigned from politics and was replaced by Madeleine Ogilvie on a countback, but she entered parliament an independent.
This election, she’s hoping to return to Clark — as a Liberal.
On the Liberals’ side, Sue Hickey nabbed a seat, along with Attorney-General Elise Archer.
Ms Hickey caused a lot of headaches for the Liberals, including accepting Labor and the Greens support to steal the speakership from Rene Hidding. Never one afraid to speak her mind, she is hoping her personal popularity can see her represent Clark as an Independent.
The final seat was claimed by Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor.
Along with Labor, Liberal, the Greens and some other minor parties, there are five independents — including Glenorchy Mayor Kristie Johnston and two Hobart City councillors — hoping to get a look in.
Any other seats to keep an eye on?
All of them – with the possible exception of Lyons.
With the loss of popular Liberal premier Will Hodgman in the southern seat of Franklin, Jacquie Petrusma will be leading the ticket for the first time. Liberal Nick Street will also be hoping to return to parliament, but he’s never actually won a seat on election night – instead arriving in Parliament twice on recounts. Huon Valley Mayor Bec Enders is another one to watch.
On the Labor side, David O’Byrne is likely to return and Kingborough Mayor Dean Winter – the candidate Labor spent the first week fighting over — will be hoping to make the jump from local to state government. The question is will he help them gain a third seat or take Alison Standen’s?
Greens MP Rosalie Woodruff will also be hoping to gain enough support to return.
The Liberals are hoping to make their gains in the north and north-west – the electorates of Bass and Braddon.
Liberal incumbents Mr Gutwein, Michael Ferguson and Sarah Courtney all sit in the seat of Bass. They’ll be hoping to add a fourth seat by taking it from Labor’s Jennifer Houston.
Former Launceston Mayor Janie Finlay is also running for Labor and there’s talk she could win a seat, but it could be at the expense of Ms Houston.
In Braddon, Liberal incumbent Jeremy Rockliff is expected to return. Adam Brooks is back on the ticket after resigning in 2019, following an integrity commission investigation.
His campaign has been dogged by controversy but he could still get a seat. The Liberals are almost certain to get a third seat and are hoping to pick up a fourth.
Labor also has two incumbents in this seat – Anita Dow and Shane Broad — and will be running former Federal MP Justine Keay.
Independent Craig Garland is also taking a crack after polling well in the federal election.
You can keep up to date on the ABC News Tasmania live blog, on ABC TV from 6:00pm AEDT and on the ABC NEWS channel.
What difference has COVID made to election day?
The electoral commission has seen a surge in pre-poll voting this year, that could be because people have made up their minds or perhaps they want to avoid the crowds.
For those who will be heading along today, there will be hand sanitising stations at the entry of every poll place, with surfaces cleaned at regular intervals.
Like most places, there will be maximum density limits, so you’ll get to play stand on the ‘x’, and if you aren’t keen on communal pens, the Tasmanian Electoral Commission has suggested people BYO.
If you’re not feeling well, you’re still going to need to vote. The TEC has asked that you identify yourself so your voting can be expedited through the polling place, with appropriate cleaning and hygiene measures taken.
Can I vote and have my sausage, too?
Finally, we get down to the important stuff. Food.
No, COVID will not ruin the democracy sausage.
Snags, cakes and hopefully something vegetarian will still be on offer!
Yes, there is even a website keeping track of who is providing the goods.
Feel free to send in your best pics to the . Points for finding vego options.
Source: Thanks msn.com