Going to be out of town or out of the country for the federal election on 7 September? We’ve rounded up all your options so you can exercise your right to vote.
Today marks the official opening of pre-poll voting. If voting on 7 September is not an option for you, there are several possibilities open to you, as the Australian Electoral Commission explains. (This presumes you’re already on the electoral roll, which closed for this election earlier this month.)
Officially, you’re eligible to vote early if you’re going to be outside your electorate on polling day, forced to work, pregnant, ill, in prison or have religious beliefs that bar voting on a Saturday. In reality, no-one is going to check closely on your actual location on the day if you vote in advance. You can choose between a postal vote or voting at an early voting centre in Australia or overseas.
You can apply for a postal vote online at any point up until Thursday 5 September. Postal votes are counted until 13 days after the election, but should be posted on or before election day. (We wouldn’t recommend waiting until 5 September to apply). Political parties often send postal voting forms to all voters in an electorate ahead of time, so if you’re feeling really lazy that’s another option.
Early voting centres
You can lodge an early vote at a variety of early voting centres. The AEC site has a searchable list which shows the options for each electorate. A note for travellers: there are early voting centres at most major airports, so that can be a useful option if you’re on the road prior to the election.
If you’re outside the country altogether and can’t organise a postal vote in advance, you can visiting an overseas voting centre, assuming one is accessible. Early voting at overseas centres begins on 26 August.
Remember, voting in Australia is compulsory, so if you don’t vote, you’ll risk a fine. Also remember that people still regularly die in other parts of the world fighting for the right to vote: it’s not a responsibility you should dismiss lightly.