"Early Voting Commences as Half the Nation Prepares for Referendum: A Closer Look"earlyvoting,referendum,nation,closerlook
"Early Voting Commences as Half the Nation Prepares for Referendum: A Closer Look"

“Early Voting Commences as Half the Nation Prepares for Referendum: A Closer Look”

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Early Referendum Voting Begins Across Australia Today

Early voting for the highly anticipated Voice to Parliament referendum officially begins today in half of Australia. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has set up numerous early polling locations around the country for those who are unable to vote on October 14. For those who fall into this category, here’s what you need to know.

When Does Early Voting Start?

Early voting opens over the next two days due to the public holiday in four states. It begins today, October 2, in the following states and territories: Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia. And tomorrow, October 3, in the following states and territories: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia.

Where Can I Vote Early?

The AEC has set up hundreds of early polling locations that will progressively open over the two weeks before the official voting date. To find an early polling location near you, you can use the AEC’s ‘Where Can I Vote?’ tool, which will also provide information on opening hours, accessibility services, and directions.

Who Is Eligible to Vote Early?

According to the AEC, you can vote early either in person or by post if you meet any of the following criteria on polling day:

  • Are outside the electorate where you are enrolled to vote
  • Are more than 8km from a polling place
  • Are travelling
  • Are unable to leave your workplace to vote
  • Are seriously ill, infirm, or due to give birth shortly (or caring for someone who is)
  • Are a patient in hospital and can’t vote at the hospital
  • Have religious beliefs that prevent you from attending a polling place
  • Are in prison serving a sentence of less than three years or otherwise detained
  • Are a silent elector
  • Have a reasonable fear for your safety or wellbeing

The AEC has confirmed that when a person comes in to vote at a pre-polling center, they will be asked if they are eligible to vote early, but they are not required to give further details.

How Do I Vote in the Voice Referendum?

When you arrive to vote, you will receive a ballot paper with the proposed alteration to the constitution and a question asking if you approve the proposed alteration. You will be required to write either Yes or No in English on the ballot paper. It is important not to do a tick or a cross, as a cross would be considered an informal vote and won’t be counted, while a tick would be considered a Yes vote.

This ruling on ticks and crosses is based on legal advice from 1988 and updated advice from the Australian government solicitor from earlier this year. The AEC has also created a sample online ballot that voters can practice on in the lead-up to the vote. It is worth noting that voting in the referendum is compulsory, and everyone who is on the electoral roll is required to vote.

How Can I Vote If I’m Overseas?

If you are overseas during the referendum vote, you have two options:

  1. Postal Voting: If you want to vote via post, you will need a fixed address where the ballot paper can be sent. You will also need to apply for a postal vote if you haven’t already. Applications for postal voting close at 6 PM local time on Wednesday, October 11. Once you complete your postal voting pack, you need to return your ballot paper as soon as possible. The AEC encourages overseas postal voters to return the ballots to the nearest Australian embassy or High Commission for a quicker return. If there is no office nearby, a local mail service can be used. The AEC has provided a state-by-state list of addresses for local mail postal votes.
  2. In-person Voting: The AEC will establish multiple overseas voting centers at selected Australian embassies, consulates, and High Commissions in the lead-up to the referendum. Information on overseas voting centers can be found on the AEC website.

Can I Still Register as a Silent Elector?

If you want your address to be hidden from the public electoral roll for personal or family safety reasons, you can register as a silent elector with the AEC. When applying, you will need to submit a statutory declaration that explains the risk to you or your family. It is important to note that the AEC does not consider profession, having a private phone number, or not wanting to receive junk mail as valid standalone reasons. If other family members share the same name and address, the AEC strongly recommends that they also become silent electors. However, the silent status will only apply for future federal, state, and local government elections as the deadline for enrolment to vote in the referendum has already passed.

These early voting provisions and options for overseas voters highlight the commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in Australia’s democratic processes. By making early voting available to those who are unable to vote on the designated date, the AEC ensures that every eligible citizen has the opportunity to participate in this important referendum.

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"Early Voting Commences as Half the Nation Prepares for Referendum: A Closer Look"
<< photo by Hansjörg Keller >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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How ya going, Australia? Lachlan Reed here, your resident weatherman. I've been deciphering the Aussie skies for the better part of 20 years. From scorchers to drizzlers, I've got you covered. Don't forget your sunnies or brollies when you step out!

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