(Image: Private Media)

So much of understanding Western Australia starts with its size. If you've never been there, nothing can quite communicate the sheer vastness of the place, its isolation, its sparseness. Take the seat of Durack, over a million and a half square kilometres spread across the top half of WA, taking in the Mid West and the Kimberley, home to just under 100,000 electors.

The Australian Electoral Commission announced this week that it was struggling to staff polling places in several communities across the electorate (as well as in O’Connor, which covers a comparatively slight 868,576 square kilometres across the state’s south). As of this morning, of the 15 postcodes around the country suffering staff shortages, eight are in WA. The ability of these communities -- all remote, many largely Indigenous -- to vote is under threat.  

Tangiora Hinaki, CEO of Pilbara-based independent community broadcaster Ngaarda Media -- you may remember their work on Terrance Flowers, the man wrongly identified as Cleo Smith’s abductor last year --- gave Crikey an indication of how the distance spreads once a polling station closes.