Friday, June 17, 2016


We're in the middle of a Federal election campaign here and all Australians over the age of eighteen are required by law to be enrolled and vote. There are exemptions, of course, for those who are not capable for some reason but those reasons have to be compelling and every effort is made to ensure that those who can't get to a polling place have the opportunity to vote. We can register for a postal vote, vote early at a divisional electoral office and places like hospitals and nursing homes have mobile polling options taken to the residents while polling officers will even bring voting slips to someone who is unable to get out of a car to that person in the parking area. When my father became very physically disabled that was the option he chose although he could equally well have chosen to make a postal vote.

There are rules as to who can have a postal vote or vote early, of course - otherwise they might be swamped by those who want to avoid the lengthy queues that can form at polling places. Because I often have difficulty standing and or walking any great distance - and you can be standing in a long queue for anything between thirty and forty five minutes at my local polling place - I have exercised the early voting option for the last few elections. The trouble is that this year the rules have been tightened and I wasn't sure I'd be eligible any longer. As well, the number of venues where you can vote early in each electorate have been cut back so it was no longer an option to go to the temporary office at my local shopping centre. Instead I would have to go a considerable distance to one of two polling places, something that's not easy since I can't drive at the moment while I'm waiting on a knee operation.

What to do? So I phoned the Australian Electoral Commission to find out how I could get around this.  A pleasant young woman told me I fell into the postal voting category and told me how to get registered online. So now I'm waiting for my voting papers to arrive and then I have to vote and send them back. It won't spare me from the endless bombardment of politicians telling me why I should vote for them but at least I'll have done my duty and pleased I am to do it.


Jo said...

It isn't mandatory here Helen. But we can opt to vote early. Don't have to get permission, you just turn up. We have done that when we have been working the elections. You are not allowed to vote at the polling station where you are working. They set up a booth in our building once, but I guess it wasn't worthwhile because they haven't done it since.

Helen V. said...

It's not so much getting permission, Jo, as having to apply for postal votes to ensure that you can get your polling papers in advance and you have to make a declaration that you are eligible for it. They don't want random copies floating around to be tampered with which is fair enough. As far as the early voting is concerned you do just turn up to an electoral office which is what I've always done before. Apparently this time, though, they are supposed to be vetting whether you are eligible but I don't know how they are doing it.