Victorians cast final election votes as Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy battle for power

| 26.11,22. 04:11 PM |

Victorians cast final election votes as Daniel Andrews and Matthew Guy battle for power

A view of voters inside a Richmond church voting centre on Victoria's election day.
Members of the public cast their vote at St Agnes Church In Richmond.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Victorians are casting their final votes in the state election, after a campaign marked by big-spending pledges and cost-of-living pressures.

By Friday night, more than 1.9 million Victorians had opted to vote early — compared to just under 1.4 million in 2018.

Polling stations around the state will be open until 6pm today, with a COVID-safe drive-through option on offer in Melbourne's west.

Premier Daniel Andrews was among the Victorians who voted early, posting a photo to social media as he cast his ballot with his family at an inner-city booth.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy cast his vote this morning with his family at Serpell Primary School at Templestowe, in his seat of Bulleen in Melbourne's north-east.

Throughout the election campaign, both sides of politics have aimed to sharpen their election promises around rising cost-of-living pressures.

The Coalition has campaigned hard on its promise to cap Melbourne public transport fares at $2 a day and halve V/Line fares — a measure it said would kick in from the start of next year.

Labor has argued its promise to revive the State Electricity Commission would ultimately drive down power prices, while spearheading investment in renewable energy.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews shakes hands with a person wearing a hard hat and a high-vis vest.
Daniel Andrews visits the site of the Glen Huntly level crossing removal site on election day.(AAP: James Ross)

Both Labor and the Coalition have pledged billions of dollars for hospital upgrades and rebuilds, and on Thursday offered their explanation to voters on how they would fund those while managing the state's rising debt.

On Friday, both leaders acknowledged the election race had tightened.

"Every seat's close," Mr Andrews said.

"Whole elections are determined by a handful of votes and a handful of seats and that's why I'm asking people to vote for a strong, stable, majority Labor government."

He reiterated his comments on ABC News Breakfast this morning, saying "no deal will be offered and no deal will be done" if the election results in Labor having to negotiate and work more closely with the Greens and independents to govern.

Mr Guy said he was not focused on "anything else but winning".

"Victorians wouldn't expect me to be anything else but that, because I know this is our chance for the state to move on," he said.

"For Victoria to be the place it should be — confident and powerful as we have been in the past, a strong state that has great plans for the future, and I'm not going to waste that chance."

A family surrounding two polling boxes.
Matthew Guy votes with his family at a Templestowe primary school.(AAP: David Caird)

After he voted at Templestowe, Mr Guy said although he was relieved the campaign had come to an end, he was expecting this evening to be a long one.

"It's going to be, I think, a longer count," he said.

"You'll get booth results in earlier, which might be very different to the final result because what happens on the day is maybe not reflective of what's come during waves of pre-poll."

A view of voters inside a Richmond church voting centre on Victoria's election day.
Members of the public cast their vote at St Agnes Church In Richmond.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Greens leader Samantha Ratnam spoke after voting in Brunswick, saying today could be a "turning point" for the state.

She said her party was hopeful of retaining its current seats of Melbourne, Prahran and Brunswick, as well as picking up extra seats such as Northcote and Richmond.

A line of people in the sunshine on election day in Melbourne.
People line up at the Collingwood Town Hall voting centre, which is in the seat of Richmond.(AAP: James Ross)
A person with a hot dog bun in their hands and a person laughing.
Volunteers attend to a barbecue at a voting centre.(AAP: James Ross)

'Should be talking about polices': Voters have their say

In Hawthorn, Ed Brumby said the fine weather made it easier and more comfortable to vote despite some queues.

The inner-Melbourne seat is being hotly contested by Liberal candidate John Pesutto, who lost it at the 2018 election to Labor's John Kennedy. Teal independent candidate Melissa Lowe has also garnered significant support.

Mr Brumby said he thought the election campaign overall had been "very nasty" from both sides.

"We should be talking about policies and such, not making personal criticisms," he said.

A man wearing a grey shirt and sunglasses.
Hawthorn voter Ed Brumby says the election campaign lacked focus on policy.(ABC News)

Melissa McCarten, a Hawthorn resident, said she hadn't taken much notice of the campaign after deciding who to vote for "a long time ago".

A woman wearing a pink t-shirt standing near a tree.
Hawthorn voter Melissa McCarten says how the COVID pandemic was managed is crucial to her vote.(ABC News)

"I think Dan Andrews [will win], probably not by much, but I think he will," she said.

"I quite admired what he did through the pandemic under a lot of stress and pressure.

"I don't have much faith in the Libs and Matthew Guy and I think Dan's got another term in him."

A person uses tongs to put a sausage in a bun, which another person is holding.
Voters line up for a democracy sausage at a voting centre in Hawthorn.(ABC News: Danny Morgan)
A sign reading "vote 1 for the sausage #democracysausage" in chalk at a voting centre.
A sign written in chalk at Footscray West Primary School.(ABC News: Jessica Longbottom)

In the seat of Point Cook in Melbourne's west, issues like health and public transport were top of minds.

Melbourne's west has traditionally been Labor heartland, but the profile of seats with rapidly-growing populations like Point Cook, Werribee and Melton have changed.

Point Cook voter Shane said infrastructure to support an ageing population in his area was a big concern.

A man wearing a navy shirt and a black cap.
Point Cook voter Shane picked out road congestion and healthcare as big issues.(ABC News)

He said road congestion was a problem in the growing area.

"Quality of living is pretty important for people in the area", he said.

Shane said he was glad to see local candidates "doing the hard yards" and engaging with voters in person.

People in some parts of Victoria were reporting long queues, with some taking their concerns up with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) on social media.

In a response to a voter queuing at Clarinda, the VEC said in a social media post that anyone still in the queue at 6pm would be allowed to cast their vote.

"However, no-one can join the queue after 6pm (close of voting)," the tweet said.

The VEC told others concerned about long wait-times at voting centres to try other locations or revisit during the afternoon when "it might be quieter".

As the hours count down until polls close, some Victorians have received texts spruiking both major parties.

One of the texts that has been circulating calls on recipients to vote Liberal, saying: "Don't let him get away with it. The only way to get rid of Daniel Andrews is to vote Liberal today."

The other text says, "It's Dan Andrews here. Your choice really matters this election. I've recorded a video message for you," directing recipients to a web link.

People lined up along the wall of a brick building, beside a sports field.
Voters at Footscray West Primary School.(ABC News: Jessica Longbottom)

Diverse range of candidates could produce long night of counting

A record number of candidates are contesting the election, which could result in a long night of vote counting and unexpected results as new dynamics play out in seats around the state.

The Greens are hoping to strengthen their presence in the lower house and seize more seats from Labor in inner-Melbourne such as Richmond, Northcote and Albert Park.

In Melbourne's west, Labor is also facing pressure in seats such as Melton and Point Cook, where independents are arguing the safe Labor territory has been chronically underfunded for years.

The Liberal Party is fighting to win back or hold onto a swag of seats in Melbourne's east and south-east, including the seats of Caulfield, Kew and Hawthorn.

In the upper house, a swag of micro-parties are contesting regions for the first time, seeking to harness simmering pandemic frustration in the community.

(Votes: 0)

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