As the largest local government area in the world, the Shire of East Pilbara has introduced mobile voting for this year’s local government election with the hope it will encourage political participation in remote communities. The Shire of East Pilbara covers 372,571sq km and stretches from Newman to the Northern Territory, encompassing some of the most remote communities in WA. Shire chief executive Steven Harding said he hoped the new service would increase residents’ engagement with local politics. “Council has conducted postal elections for at least the last 20 years under the control of the Electoral Commission. At the last ordinary postal election in 2021, 498 voters participated out of an electorate of 2614 electors,” he said. “A voting in-person election provides electors with the opportunity to cast their votes at a polling place as they would for a State or Federal election, and does not rely on the postal service, which can at times be unreliable in remote areas. “In order to enfranchise the greatest number of electors’ participation, WA Electoral Commission and the Shire staff will be conducting mobile voting in remote communities including Jigalong, Kiwirrkurra, Kunawarritji, Parnngurr, Punmu and Warralong.” Early voting started on October 2 for the 2023 Shire elections. Before this election, voting for Shire councillors was only possible through mail ballot, which Mr Harding said prevented some residents from being politically engaged. “In-person voting will ensure that community members in Jigalong, Kiwirrkurra, Kunawarritji, Parnngurr, Punmu, and Warralong who wish to vote will be able to vote,” he said. “In the past, many enrolled electors have not received ballot papers in the mail in time to vote, disenfranchising those who wish to participate. “In-person voting guarantees the vote to those who are eligible and wish to exercise that right.” After the election, Mr Harding said the Shire would decide whether to continue the service. “As an in-person election has not been held by the Shire in recent times, the election performance will be evaluated by Council prior to any future decisions about the method of election for future elections,” he said.