In what is being considered an unusual and heavy-handed approach, Bega Valley Shire Council rangers have enforced the removal of NSW election candidate signage and paraphernalia from in front of Bega and Merimbula's pre-polling stations.
At lunchtime on Tuesday, party representatives handing out how-to-vote cards were left perplexed by the ruling and the ranger's response.
They said a ranger had just paid them a visit and they were told all posters on free-standing A-frames were to be removed entirely from council property, and could only be placed on private land if written permission was granted first.
As per the Electoral Act, all other posters and electioneering material was to be removed from a six-metre exclusion zone measured from the polling centre entrances.
At Bega, that meant a hasty change to the large headshots of candidates including Liberal Andrew Constance, Labor Leanne Atkinson, Greens Will Douglas and several nurses union posters - they now adorn the railings at the pre-poll station's exit, which is outside the exclusion zone.
At Merimbula, where the pre-polling is taking place at Twyford Hall, it's a trickier situation given the lack of external railings.
To be able to use the footpath areas in front of the polling centres, political parties would need to apply for public land use approval through BVSC.
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Ms Atkinson was at the Bega pre-poll centre in the aftermath of the ranger's visit and was dumbfounded.
"I've been involved in polling stations and handing out how-to vote cards since '98 and I've never been in a situation where we've been forced to remove polling material," she said.
"We've all been respectful here and I respect the other candidates' representatives in advertising their material here. Democracy doesn't need to be secretive.
"Eurobodalla Shire seems to be able to accommodate us, but Bega Valley can't - I'm curious what their policy is.
"It's just the most bizarre situation."
One of the volunteers at Bega said he had recently been in Thailand and added with a chuckle that "even the military dictatorship allows posters all over the place".
Bega returning officer Susan Flannery said as long as parties complied with the six-metre exclusion zone, that was the limit of the NSW Electoral Commission's involvement and the rest was between council and the parties to sort out.