OUTSIDE the Salvation Army Hall in Wodonga, you’ll find an army of a different kind.
Sporting sunhats, they stand resolutely, clutching how-to-vote cards, keen eyes trained for the next voter to approach.
When footsteps near, they spring into action as they vie for the big prize — your attention.
Every candidate needs a team of volunteers, the political foot soldiers of the campaign.
The early voting station at the Salvos’ hall is just a warm-up for Saturday’s main event.
But even now the rules must be kept.
No standing on the footpath at any time, stick to the grass, if you please (even when posing for photographs for The Border Mail, as we quickly found out from an Australian Electoral Commission official).
As the sun beats down on a remarkably warm spring afternoon, the volunteers are lined up almost in a guard of honour by either side of footpath, ever alert for passing trade.
Lorraine Lawry is a volunteer for the Liberal Party with an unwavering dedication.
“I was here from 8.30am to 5.30pm all last week,” Mrs Lawry said.
This week there’s more of a roster in place.
As “a loyal member of the party for many, many years”, she has volunteered many times and thoroughly enjoys the experience.
Next to her stands Labor’s Ray Slywka, a first-time volunteer after joining the party less than a year ago.
“I’m a union guy, I believe in the ALP principles,” he said, pausing to pass out another card.
“I thought it was about time to get involved.
“I’m semi-retired now and there’s a lot of good candidates standing.”
Labor’s team in Indi is slim — Mr Slywka estimates it’s about a dozen, a far cry from the 500-strong team Cathy McGowan has pulled together.
Ruth Yule, a McGowan volunteer, said she switched sides this year to help the independent’s candidate’s campaign.
“I like the idea of independence,” she said.
“More than anything I think we just need a good representative.”
Palmer United Party candidate Bob Murphy is handing out his own cards (though is seeking more volunteers to give him a hand on election day in Wodonga, Mount Beauty and Rutherglen).
“It’s hard, but that doesn’t matter to me,” he said.
“I’ve had a good response from people, so that’s good.”
They’ve all been quick to assess voters on their approach.
Some take every card with no comment, others take none, others still take only one for the candidate they know they’ll vote for.
“Occasionally you get an idea of how they’re voting, but not always,” Ms Yule said.
“More often than not they’ll take everything.
“It’s one of the great things about elections in Australia, everyone gets to exercise their democratic privilege.”
So is there no scuffle for voters’ attentions?
No rowdy push-and-shove?
Surely, with so many different sides of the debate in close quarters, there must be some tension, a little hostility between camps?
Apparently not — in Wodonga at any rate, it’s all shared morning teas and lollies, coffee runs and plenty of chit-chat.
“We have no qualms about each other’s groups — that’s what democracy is,” Mrs Lawry said.
“Courtesy costs nothing, and we have respect for each other’s views.”
Ron Podesta, handing out how-to-vote cards for his daughter-in-law, independent Jennifer Podesta, said: “We’re all friends here, there’s no enemies”.