Early voting has opened for the first time in a federal poll since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large sections of the Australian economy, and while campaigners have been asked to take extra precautions there are no official guidelines confirmed by NSW Health.
The lines leading to polling booths have traditionally been a difficult place to keep one's distance from political volunteers, but receiving or avoiding pamphlets has taken on a new level of significance even as restrictions ease.
Parties and candidates have been given no official guidance from either the Australian Electoral Commission or NSW Health on how to campaign in a way that is safe within the pandemic, although draft guidelines from NSW Health have been distributed which ask the parties to avoid handing out how-to-vote cards directly where possible, instead having the paraphernalia on tables to be picked up.
The lack of official guidance has created confusion within parties about what is allowed, with some mistakenly believing volunteers shouldn't be handing over the cards at all.
On Monday The Canberra Times witnessed how-to-vote pamphlets left on tables and volunteers handing them to voters.
Early voting centres are open from now until election day on July 4, but the Australian Electoral Commission's only authority over campaigning activities at voting venues is to ensure campaigners don't come within six metres of an entrance and that electoral matter is authorised properly.
A spokesman for the Commission said COVID-19 safety measures had been introduced inside polling places to ensure social distancing in consultation with NSW and Commonwealth health authorities.
"Like the AEC (and each individual voter), it is the responsibility of candidates and parties to ensure their conduct at the byelection meets current health requirements in place," the spokesman said.
A Liberal party spokesman said volunteers' details and locations were being kept for 28 days in case contact tracing is required, and were provided with hand sanitisier, disinfectant wipes and masks.
"Volunteers are also provided with guidance on ways to direct voters to pick up how-to-vote cards, rather than handing them out," he said.
With the start of voting also comes preference deals between parties, which could play a significant role in the ultra-marginal seat that is being contested by 14 candidates.
At Bega's pre-polling booth on Monday morning, Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs was greeting the handful of locals drifting in slowly to cast their early vote.
While she came dramatically close to claiming the marginal seat at last year's election, the random ballot draw has Dr Kotvojs in the last spot this time around.
Her suggested preferences are heading the way of National Party's Trevor Hicks and Christian Democrat Narelle Storey ahead of Liberal Democrat Dean McCrae and independent James Holgate. Labor rival Kristy McBain appears in the number 11 spot.
Ms McBain and Greens candidate Cathy Griff have exchanged their number two spots, with Labor then preferencing Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Matthew Stadtmiller at three. Mr Stadtmiller is preferencing Labor above either of the Coalition parties
Mr Hicks is sticking with his Coalition colleague in placing Dr Kotvojs in his number two slot, something the party originally said wasn't guaranteed.