The elections opened as Victorians voted to set the state’s direction for the next four years after a hard-fought campaign.
More than a million people will cast their ballots between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday for 1,700 voting days across the state.
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Almost half of the 4.4 million registered Victorians have already cast their ballots at early voting centers or by post, prompting a warning from the state Electoral Commission that doing so could delay results on election night.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews appears in the box seat to win an elusive third term after a Newspoll released on Friday night showed Labor is on track to return despite a nearly three percent swing.
According to the poll published by The Australian, Labor leads the coalition 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent on a two-party preferred basis.
Labor starts with 55 seats in the House of Commons and would have to lose 11 to lose power. Newspoll is on course to retain 45 to 50 seats.
The coalition has 27 seats and needs to absorb another 18 to fully govern.
The latest Resolve poll showed Labor could lose between eight and 12 seats, putting it at risk of slipping into a minority government.
Independent consultancy RedBridge Group is forecasting Labor between 41 and 48 seats and the Coalition between 27 and 33 seats.
Labor seats at risk of falling include Melton, Werribee, Point Cook, Hawthorn, Box Hill, Northcote, Richmond and Albert Park.
Andrews made his third campaign visit to Northcote on Friday and announced the election was near.
“Whole elections are determined by a handful of votes in a handful of seats,” he told reporters.
Liberal leader Matthew Guy, who made his final pitch in front of voters while touring Ballarat and Geelong, was optimistic about causing a boil over.
“It’s easy, with all due respect, for those who aren’t in politics to think that this isn’t possible. But I can tell you it can,” he said.
Newspoll reported that Andrews is way ahead as the preferred prime minister with 51 percent, compared to 35 percent for Guy.
The Prime Minister broke with tradition of casting his ballot early Thursday evening, voting alongside his wife Catherine and two of his children outside his Mulgrave constituency.
Guy, who pre-polled in 2018, will vote in Templestowe on Saturday morning.
https://7news.com.au/politics/handful-of-votes-voting-opens-in-hard-fought-victorian-election-contest–c-8972360 “Fistful of Votes”: Voting begins in the hard-fought Victorian election campaign