Candidates Handbook: Voting

Updated: 22 January 2019

4. Voting

The Act

  • Part XV, 'Postal voting'
  • Part XVI, 'The polling'
  • Part XVA, 'Pre-poll voting'
  • Part XXI, 'Electoral offences'
  • Part XXA, 'Authorisation of electoral matter'
  • Schedule 2, 'Grounds of application for postal or pre-poll vote'

For more information, see voting procedures

How-to-vote cards

Party workers may assist electors by handing them how-to-vote (HTV) cards and, if necessary, explain the cards to them. Party workers are reminded it is an offence to print, publish or distribute misleading or deceptive statements relating to the actual marking of a ballot paper. When producing HTV material, parties and candidates need to be mindful of the colour and size of their material so as to avoid any confusion between the HTV material and ballot papers issued to electors by the AEC. Because a HTV card is a form of written communication specifed in the Act it requires the inclusion of authorisation particulars. Depending on who the authorising person or entity is, the exact particulars for an authorisation on a HTV card will vary. For example, HTV cards may need to carry:

  • the name and full street address of the authorising person or entity
  • the name of the natural person responsible for giving effect to the authorisation (if required)
  • the name of the printer who printed the communication and the full street address of the printer.

A person must not publish a HTV card during an election period without the proper authorisations. From 15 March 2018, authorisation particulars are no longer required to be printed on both faces of the HTV card, but rather the authorisation particulars are only required at the end (or bottom) of the printed material in a font size that can be read by a person with 20/20 vision without the use of any visual aid.

A HTV card is defined in subsection 4(1) of the Act. In short, it is any printed medium that lists the name of two or more candidates and directs or encourages electors to mark their preference for the candidates in a particular order. It does not include a card that only relates to first preference votes or only relates to last preference votes.

Any HTV card or other electoral communication that does not reflect the requirements of s.239 (for the Senate) or s.240 (for the House of Representatives) runs the risk of being found by a court to be in breach of s.329 of the Act.

There is a general prohibition on canvassing within six metres of an entrance to a polling place, which means that HTV cards or other non-AEC notices cannot be distributed or displayed within that distance. HTV cards must not be exhibited or left in a polling place.

Appendix 1 lists the offences under the Act.

HTV cards produced for electors by political parties and candidates need to have clear instructions and be well designed so they assist electors to cast a formal vote. Otherwise, HTV information may confuse some voters and cause them to cast an informal vote without meaning to do so.

HTV cards for electors serviced by mobile polling teams may be supplied by party workers to the team leader of a mobile polling team. It is not the responsibility of the team leader to arrange for this or to remind party workers to do so. Mobile polling teams will provide the electoral material to electors on request.

Electoral communications

The Electoral Backgrounder on Electoral communications and authorisation requirements provides a basic introduction to electoral communications and authorisations. Its contents are a guide only. Individual matters are assessed on a case-by-case basis and ultimately it is for the courts to decide upon the interpretation of the law in any particular case. Accordingly, if you are in doubt about the interpretation of the law in particular circumstances, you should seek your own independent legal advice.

The Electoral Backgrounder on Electoral Electoral communications and authorisation requirements discusses:

  • authorisation requirements
  • authorisations for written communications
  • authorisations for HTV cards
  • authorisations for text messages
  • authorisations for social media communications
  • authorisations for phone calls (including bulk voice calls)
  • authorisations for email communications
  • authorisations for websites
  • authorisations for speeches
  • authorisations for search advertising
  • authorisations for streamed music
  • authorisations for digital banner advertisements
  • authorisations for mobile phone applications and computer applications
  • authorisations for video sharing applications
  • authorisations in a cinema
  • authorisations on electoral advertisements published in newspapers and journals
  • personal communications
  • authorisation requirements for broadcasters
  • misleading or deceptive electoral advertisement and other publications
  • electronic media blackout
  • injunctions
  • non-compliance - electoral communication offences
  • complaints.

Candidates are encouraged to pay particular attention to the authorisation of electoral communications.

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