Australian Electoral Commission

Electoral Backgrounders

Updated: 23 July 2013

Understanding Australian electoral legislation

The AEC publishes Electoral Backgrounders to assist candidates, political parties, parliamentarians, media commentators, academics, schools, and citizens generally, in understanding those aspects of electoral legislation, particularly the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, that give rise to most of the questions and complaints received by the AEC during an election period.

Electoral Backgrounders are an attempt to render electoral law, particularly in relation to electoral offences, into relatively plain English for the information and guidance of all interested persons. However, whilst they might put some flesh on the bones of the law, they are no substitute for a careful reading of the legislation, and it must be appreciated that in the final analysis it is for the courts to decide upon the operation of the law in any particular case.

Whilst the view of the operation of the law presented in the bacgkrounders is consistent with advice provided to the AEC by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the backgrounders do not represent legal advice and should not be taken as such. They are published for general information only and should not be relied upon for any particular purpose.

Anyone who is in doubt about the application of the law should obtain their own legal advice. Anyone who believes that the law should be changed might consider sending a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.