THERE'S no need to get in a flap about voting in the council election - just follow the instructions carefully and your voice will be heard.
Postal voting seems to have left some local voters stumped, with up to eight per cent of the ballots so far mailed back consigned to the "informal" basket.
The stumbling block is the flap attached to the return envelope, which some electors are tearing off by mistake.
The trouble is, the flap contains information vital to registering a valid vote, namely the signature of the voter and the name, address and signature of a witness.
Southern Downs Regional Council returning officer Garry Adcock yesterday said without the flap his staff were unable to cross the voter's name off the list, meaning their ballots for mayor and councillors could not be counted.
"It's a crucial part of the process and we want to put a reminder out to all those people who are yet to vote not to remove the flap from the envelope," Mr Adcock said.
"If you do remove it, we have to reject the ballot papers as we have no way of identifying whose ballot papers are whose."
About 25% of the 23,000 ballot papers sent out to Southern Downs voters have been mailed back, with one bundle of 50 alone processed yesterday morning containing eight informals.
If the informal trend continues, as many as 1800 votes may be rejected, meaning a potentially skewed election end result.
Mr Adcock said when ballot envelopes are collected from the post office each day they are taken back to his Palmerin St office, and the elector details on the flap are checked and the voter's name crossed off the list.
It's then that the flap is removed by the polling staff and the envelope containing the ballot papers is placed in the ballot box ready for counting, which starts at 6pm on Saturday.
Mr Adcock said ballots could be received up until 10 days after Saturday and the new council could not be declared until after that time.
But he said a trend on the councillor vote could become clear in the first few days of counting, and the mayoral result could be known by Sunday evening.
It has been decided to hold the count in the Warwick Town Hall, with the gallery open to the public from 6pm.
An electronic tally board will be operating.
How to vote
- Choose one candidate for mayor on the mayoral ballot paper, by placing the number "1" in the box beside your choice
- Choose eight councillor candidates, by numbering one through to eight on the councillor ballot paper
- Councillor votes are of equal value, but you must number only eight - if you number more or less than eight your vote will be declared informal and will not be counted
- When you have voted, follow the instructions on the green section of the flap attached to the return envelope
- Do not tear off the flap - instead seal it down as per the instructions
- Voting help is available by calling 1300 881 665 (toll free)