Pottsville resident Shirley FitzGerald gets her ballot paper from electoral commission worker Richard Johnston at the Pottsville Beach Public School booth
Pottsville resident Shirley FitzGerald gets her ballot paper from electoral commission worker Richard Johnston at the Pottsville Beach Public School booth Nikki Todd

Steady stream of voters as polls open

POLLS have opened across the Tweed Shire with voters streaming in steadily to elect a new set of councillors for the next four years.

A near-record number of 76 candidates and their supporters will be vying for voters' attention today at 32 polling booths across the shire.

Voters will also have to decide with a 'Yes or No' vote in a referendum, whether or not to increase the size of the council from seven to nine councillors in 2020.

At Pottsville, a steady stream of voters were accessing the booth - one of the largest on the Tweed Coast - although experienced volunteers said it was nowhere near as busy as at federal or state polls.

"There's been a fairly constant stream of people coming in but it is quieter than expected,” said Mitch Hull, handing out how-to-vote cards for independent Dion Andrews.

Two councillors from Byron Bay - Labor's Paul Spooner and the Nationals' Alan Hunter - were helping out their respective candidates at Pottsville, while NSW MLC Catherine Cusack was helping Liberal candidate James Owen at the booth.

Pottsville resident Shirley FitzGerald said she had come to the booth confident in who she would vote for.

"I know who I am voting for,” Ms FitzGerald said.

"I will be voting to remain with seven councillors (in the referendum). I've been reading plenty on the councillors over the last month or so and I have formed an opinion of who I want to put in and to vote for seven councillors is plenty.”

Labor candidate Reece Byrnes, who was at Centaur in Banora Point this morning, said he was feeling positive.

"A lot of people are voting Labor - you just know when they are taking your card and no-one else's,” he said.

A similar mood of positivity was felt by Liberal candidate James Owen, who had visited Murwillumbah and Pottsville early today.

"The mood is very positive, people want change,” Mr Owen said.

Counting of first preference votes will begin after polls close at 6pm tonight, with the first results not expected before 6.30pm.

Preferences are not expected to be counted until Tuesday with a final result expected on Thursday.