| 23.03,19. 04:44 PM |
NSW election polls open as Liberals, Labor make last-ditch pitch to voters
Polls in the New South Wales election are officially open as the leaders of the major parties make their last-minute pitches to the electorate.
Polls opened at 8:00am on Saturday morning with both Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Labor leader Michael Daley casting their votes early.
Ms Berejiklian was the first to vote of the two, casting her ballot at Willoughby Public School in her electorate of Willoughby just before 9:00am.
The Premier said it would be a "close race" and there was "a lot at stake".
"It's a great day today," she said.
"I know New South Wales deserves a government that knows how to run the budget, knows how to provide a strong economy and invests that into the schools, the hospitals, the roads and rail our community needs right across this great state.
"I hope the people of New South Wales will allow my Government to do the job we need to do to finish these projects deliver the new ones into the future and take pressure off them day in and day out."
Mr Daley, flanked by his wife and two children, voted about half an hour later at Chifley Public School in his Maroubra electorate.
He said today was the day the people of NSW "get to take their lives back" after "eight years of chaotic government".
"There is a better way," he said.
"And I'm asking people today to support Labor.
"We've worked as hard as we can, it's been a long campaign and now it's in the hands of the voters."
Both leaders are heading to marginal seats today to continue the campaign in the final hours ahead of the polls closing at 6pm.
Polls have predicted a tight race today, and a Newspoll out this morning has the Coalition slightly ahead 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.
A number of key seats have been identified by ABC election analyst Antony Green, with Lismore, held by the Nationals by 0.2 per cent and East Hills, held by the Liberal Party by 0.4 per cent, on the thinnest margins.
The seats of Monaro, Upper Hunter and Tweed — all held by the Nationals by 2.2 per cent, 2.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively — are also seen as seats to watch.
The seat of Coogee, which stretches from Bondi Road to South Coogee, east of Centennial Park and Randwick racecourse, is also seen as a critical seat in determining today's result.
It is held by the Liberals' Bruce Notley-Smith, who was joined by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning. Labor's Marjorie O'Neill is considered his biggest threat.
The man that replaced Mr Turnbull, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was at Sylvania Heights Public School cooking a barbecue.
Mr Morrison, who cannot vote in the state election despite being the Federal MP for the area, said Ms Berejiklian had run a "very strong campaign".
"I think the state guys have a done a great job, and Gladys has shown great discipline and strong leadership," Mr Morrison said.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who was in Tasmania today and Western Australia during the week, sent out a tweet wishing Mr Daley luck.
The NSW Electoral Commission said there had been some "intermittent performance issues" with the state's online iVote system that affected some voters last night and this morning, but it said those issues had now been resolved.
The registration process for iVote closed at 1:00pm.
The commission said more than 1.3 million people voted before election day, with 220,000 people using iVote.
A voting centre at Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College on the Central Coast was closed just after midday, after a man in his 80s collapsed and died.
An ambulance is at the scene.
The campaign so far
The campaign has been one of predictability, with the Premier focusing on her Government's massive infrastructure projects, and "strong and stable government".
Labor has been focusing on the Berejiklian Government's decision to tear down the Sydney Football Stadium, as well as funding for schools and hospitals.
There were large crowds at voting stations across the state this morning, with many voters participating in the "democracy sausage" tradition.