26 September 2023

National election managers take postal votes to hand

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Voters in the upcoming Federal Election who plan to lodge a postal vote have been urged to do so only through the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), and only if they absolutely need to.

The advice was issued by Australian Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, who said he had written to the political parties and candidates concerning their distribution of postal vote applications.

“It’s legal but it is potentially misleading,” Mr Rogers said.

“And we’re concerned,” he said.

Mr Rogers said the Commission was dealing with a multitude of issues related to voting but it was the “number one complaint we’re receiving” with “thousands of pieces of correspondence …. in just days”.

The Electoral Commissioner said to start with, “the election is an in-person event”.

“Most voters will come to a polling place so we don’t need the mass distribution of postal votes,” he said.

“We’ve also seen the wrong forms distributed in one division, our colour purple used in a potentially misleading way in another and voters being directed to generically named websites en masse with the potential to mislead.”

Mr Rogers said people had the right to know what the political parties and candidates were doing with their personal data.

“The AEC takes privacy seriously and operates under the Privacy Act,” he said.

“Political parties don’t have to.”

Mr Rogers said political parties sent postal vote applications to residents every election, but “the increased variation of channels and wording this election, combined with the environment, is of concern”.

“Our message couldn’t be clearer – vote in person if you can, apply for a postal vote through (the AEC) if you need one,” he said.

The Commissioner also called on Australians seeking to vote from overseas to act quickly.

Mr Rogers said the immediate priority for eligible Australians overseas was to ensure they were enrolled to vote and, once enrolled, they needed to check what voting services were available as this Federal election was a little different due to the pandemic.

“It is recommended that all overseas voters apply for a postal vote as quickly as possible,” he said.

Postal votes can be obtained from the Electoral Commission’s website up until 18 May at this PS News link.

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