The AEC has today advised that in-person voting services for Australians overseas at the time of the 2023 referendum will return to pre-pandemic levels.
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said the return to pre-pandemic overseas voting services will be enabled again by the long running partnerships between the AEC, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade.
“The reduction to in-person polling places during the pandemic was unavoidable for a range of operational and COVID-19 restriction related reasons in many overseas locations,” Mr Rogers said.
“I’m pleased to say the environment as it stands will mean the number of overseas voting centres open in cities across the world for the referendum will return to pre COVID-19 levels.”
“Voting in-person overseas is a great touchstone for Australians living and travelling overseas and I’m pleased to see it return to most of Australia’s diplomatic missions abroad through the strong ongoing co-operation between the AEC, DFAT and Austrade.”
“We don’t have details of finalised arrangements and locations to provide at this stage but given the significant discussion occurring regarding the referendum, it is prudent to advise people of this aspect of our intended referendum service provision.”
In addition to in-person voting centres in a range of cities overseas, there will again be fast-tracked arrangements in place for overseas postal voting. The use of an international courier mail service for overseas postal votes during the 2022 federal election was a first, and will continue for the referendum regardless of the increase to in-person voting centres.
With a referendum due in the final months of 2023, the AEC will be encouraging Australians who are overseas or planning to travel between October and December to plan their vote carefully.
“Overseas voting at embassies, high commissions and consulates in cities around the world is one of many areas where access to democracy places Australia as a global leader,” Mr Rogers said.
“We will of course continue to monitor the environment in consultation with DFAT and Austrade with the safety of voters and diplomatic mission staff a key consideration in any final service offering.”