Australian Electoral Commission

Guidelines for the Reproduction of Postal Vote Applications

Updated: 21 March 2016

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 requires that a postal vote application (PVA) be in the approved form [s184(1)]. An approved form is one that is approved by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) by notice published on the AEC's website.

Parties and candidates wishing to reproduce the PVA may obtain a copy of the approved form artwork from the Director, Election Systems and Delivery in the AEC's National Office by emailing or phoning 02 6271 4500.

Section 184AA of the Act provides that a PVA may be physically attached to, or form part of, other written material issued by any person or organisation. It is the AEC's view that any reproduction of the PVA by parties or candidates must reproduce all of the text of the approved form. The information is required to enable electors to submit a valid application. It is accepted however that parties and candidates may use the blank space on the form for their own purposes, or attach information to the form.

In addition, the AEC has introduced a modern, data capture solution to better process the growing numbers of PVAs and to provide an enhanced service to electors. Using a standard format for PVA forms is important in achieving maximum efficiency in this process. This includes a preference for the form portion of the PVA to be reproduced in A4 size and portrait orientation in order to best affect the scanning and data capture capability. Reproducing exactly the text and layout of the PVA form will enable electors to submit a valid application and maximises the efficiency of the data capture process.

The AEC does not approve PVAs reproduced by parties or candidates and independent legal advice should be sought by any party or candidate intending to produce a PVA that amends the text of the approved form. However, if you are reproducing the postal vote application, the AEC would appreciate receiving an advance copy to better prepare for the receipt and processing of applications during the election period.

AEC policy allows for a once off allocation of 200 PVAs printed by the AEC to be supplied to the electorate office of each Senator and each Member of Parliament on announcement of the Federal election, in order to cater for constituents who might come to an electorate office seeking a postal vote application.

If you produce PVAs, please be aware that restrictions apply to the timing of their distribution to electors:

  • Postal vote applications may not be made until the issue of the writs or the announcement of polling day, whichever is earlier. If a PVA is dated by an elector prior to the issue of the writs or the announcement of polling day it is not a valid application and must be rejected by the AEC. This is the case even if that application is received by the AEC after the issue of the writs or the announcement of polling day.
  • To avoid this problem the AEC does not distribute PVAs to post offices and the electorate offices of Senators and Members of Parliament, or publish the postal vote application on its Internet site, until the announcement of an election/referendum.
  • The AEC requests that parties and candidates also do not make any PVAs available to electors until the announcement of an election/referendum.
  • PVAs must be received by the AEC by 6pm on the Wednesday, three days before polling day in order to be accepted. It is imperative that PVAs be delivered to the AEC with no delay so that postal votes can be dispatched to and completed by the elector by polling day. Recent changes to Australia Post delivery timeframes and the effect on the legislated timeframes for receipt and completion of postal votes should be taken into account with any distribution of PVA forms.

The current version of the form reflects current legislation. Should the legislation change between now and the election, the AEC will make any necessary changes and publish a new version of the PVA to its website. Depending on the scope of the legislative change, any material produced in the interim may be unusable.