Media release

Overseas voting services to increase for the 2023 referendum

Updated: 22 May 2023

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.”

Overseas voting at the 2022 federal election

  • As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, in-person voting was available in a limited number of destinations in the 2022 federal election (19 cities around the world) compared to the 85 overseas voting centres available in the 2019 federal election.
  • 17,558 votes were cast at the in-person overseas voting centres.
  • Australia House in London issued 6,867 votes which was more than any polling place on election day.
  • Over 14,000 postal votes were issued to Australians in the United Kingdom, the largest number sent to one country.
  • The AEC packaged and sent out 57,650 postal votes to overseas Australians in 152 different countries.
  • Nine of these postal votes travelled more than 18,000 kilometres in order to reach their destination: the Canary Islands.
  • The new postal voting arrangements that utilised courier services enabled many Australians overseas to vote during a once-in-a-generation pandemic.

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