Hundreds of Wodonga residents have taken the opportunity to cast their vote on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament during the opening day of prepolling.
With less than two weeks until Australians hit the polls on October 14 for the first referendum since 1999, a steady flow of people made their way to the former CFA station on Stanley Street on Monday, October 2, to make their decision early.
Many voters told The Border Mail the site was easier to access than the nearby Salvation Army Hall on the corner of Lawrence and Railway streets, which had regularly been used for voting ahead of elections.
Wodonga's Henry and Nina de Kruiff revealed they voted no and said they had made their minds up before entering the booth.
"We came on day one to avoid the crowds. At our age and stage, we don't want to be elbows out when we come to vote," Mrs de Kruiff said.
"It was a positive experience."
Baranduda retirees Sue and Jack Daniels voted the same way and described the early voting experience as "easy".
"We're going to get some hot weather, so we thought we'd better get it over with," Mrs Daniels said.
"We voted 'no' because it's only going to cause more division."
Mr Daniels said the couple had been out shopping and appreciated the ease of access.
Wodonga's Judy and Frank Elkington, both 90, said they regularly voted early.
"Our son came down today and said he'd already voted so we said 'why not'. It's nice to get here without the queues," Mrs Elkington said.
"It's a very narrow street there at the Salvos, and, on a busy day, you can never get a park, so we like to make it easier on ourselves."
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Early voting will remain open on Stanley Street from 8.30am to 5.30pm through to Friday, October 6, and 9am to 4pm on Saturday, October 7.
The same weekday hours apply from Monday, October 9, to Thursday, October 12, but are extended to 6pm on October 13, the day before the referendum.
Due to the Labour Day public holiday in NSW, early voting begins in Albury on Tuesday, October 3, at the former wool stores and tax office in Smollett Street, with opening hours mirroring the Wodonga centre.
A second place to vote early in Wodonga will be available from Saturday, October 7, at 82 High Street, and will remain opening the following week at the same times as the Stanley Street booth.
Other early voting centres available across the North East until October 13 include:
- Wangaratta: St Patrick's Hall - Tara Court, 15-21 Ford St
- Bright: Bright Masonic Hall, 15-17 Hawthorn Lane
- Benalla: Masonic Lodge Hall, 28-30 Benalla St
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has encouraged those enrolled to plan their vote.
"Federal referendums are in-person events just like elections - this is the first time the country is coming together in nearly a quarter of a century to have their say on potential constitutional change," he said.
"If you can vote on October 14, then that's what you should do. However, if your circumstances might prevent you from doing that then you need to think about the early voting options available and vote according to your circumstances.
"Remember, it is compulsory to vote for all enrolled Australians."
Those unable to vote early or on October 14 can apply for a postal vote. Applications close at 6pm on Wednesday, October 11.
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