Scrutineers Handbook: Appendix 2: Postal voting

Updated: 23 May 2016

Eligibility

The Act, s.183 and Schedule 2

The Act states that an elector is entitled to apply for a postal vote if:

  • throughout the hours of polling on polling day, the elector will be absent from the electoral division for which the elector is enrolled,
  • the elector will not, at any time during the hours of polling on polling day, be within eight (8) kilometres by the nearest practicable route of any polling place in the state or territory for which the elector is enrolled,
  • throughout the hours of polling on polling day, the elector will be travelling under conditions that will prevent the elector attending a polling place in the state or territory for which the elector is enrolled,
  • the elector will be unable to attend a polling place on polling day because of:
    • serious illness,
    • infirmity,
    • approaching childbirth, or
    • a reasonable fear for their personal wellbeing or safety
  • on election day, the elector will be unable to attend a polling place because the elector will be at a place (other than a hospital) caring for a person who is seriously ill or infirm or who is expected shortly to give birth,
  • throughout the hours of polling on election day, the elector will be a patient at a hospital and unable to vote at the hospital,
  • because of the elector's religious beliefs or membership of a religious order, the elector:
    • is precluded from attending a polling place, or
    • for the greater part of the hours of polling on election day, is precluded from attending a polling place
  • on election day, the elector is in prison serving a sentence of less than three years or otherwise under detention (please note that not all people in prison or under detention are eligible to vote),
  • the elector's address has been excluded from the roll (silent elector),
  • throughout the hours of polling on election day, the elector will be engaged in their employment or occupation, and
    • if the elector is an employee, the elector is not entitled to leave of absence, and
    • in any other case, the absence of the elector for the purpose of attending a polling place to vote would likely to cause loss to the person in their occupation.

Application

The Act, s.184

An application for a postal vote can be made online through the AEC's Postal Voting Application or via a paper form and must:

  • contain a declaration by the applicant that they are an elector entitled to apply for a postal vote, and
  • be made after the issue of the writ for the election or the public announcement of the proposed date of the election, whichever is the earlier, and before 6pm on the Wednesday before election day.

Completion and return

The Act, s.194

On receipt of the postal vote material, which comprises a postal vote certificate and postal ballot paper, the elector should substantially observe the requirement to:

  • show the unmarked ballot paper and unsigned postal vote certificate to an authorised witness;
  • sign the postal vote certificate in the presence of the authorised witness;
  • have the authorised witness sign, date, and indicate the capacity in which the witness acts on the postal vote certificate;
  • cast a vote in the presence of the authorised witness, but so that the authorised witness cannot see the vote; and
  • post or deliver the sealed envelope to the appropriate DRO.

Postal vote envelopes containing the ballot papers need to be received by the appropriate DRO on or before 13 days after election day. The envelope containing the ballot paper should be posted before election day, but can be delivered to:

  • any DRO;
  • an early voting officer;
  • any polling place on election day before the close of the poll; or
  • a person who is at an office of the AEC and who is either:
    • the Electoral Commissioner, Deputy Electoral Commissioner or AEO,
    • a person employed under Division 4 of Part II of the Act,
    • a member of the staff of the AEC who is engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 as an ongoing Australian Public Service employee, or
    • employed under section 35(1)(b) of the Act.

Postal voting arrangements and deadlines

The following conditions apply:

  • For postal vote applications received up to and including 6pm on the Friday eight days before election day, the AEC is to dispatch postal voting material to the applicant by post or other appropriate (non-electronic) means. For applications received in this period, the applicant may also request another means of delivery (non-electronic). If these means are reasonable and practicable, the AEC is required to dispatch the postal voting material by those means.
  • The AEC is to dispatch postal voting material by the most reasonable and practicable means for applications received after 6pm on the Friday eight days before election day and up to and including 6pm on the Wednesday before election day.
  • The AEC will not be required to post or deliver postal vote material to those electors whose applications for postal votes were received after 6pm on the Wednesday prior to election day.

Registered general postal voters

Electors who are registered general postal voters will automatically be sent a postal vote certificate and postal ballot paper as soon as they become available after an election is called.

As ballot papers cannot be printed until after nominations have been finalised, there is at least a two-week period after the issue of the writ before ballot papers can be distributed.

In practical terms this means that the first despatch of postal ballot papers to any postal voter is not possible until the 3rd day following declaration of nominations (See Appendix 3).

An elector may also apply to be registered as a general postal voter if one of the grounds specified in section 184A of the Act applies.