Thursday, August 22, 2013

All You Need to Know About Voting

You really can’t miss that we have an election coming up on 7 September to decide who will be our Government and local member for the next few years! So how do you make your voice heard and ensure things that are important to you and your community are put forward?

Before and after the election is a great time to speak or write to candidates in your local area (electorate) and raise issues important to you. A good idea is to speak to candidates from all the political parties. That person you speak to could just be the person who puts your issue before Parliament some day in the future. This is how things like the NDIS started - by people talking to politicians and telling them a better system was needed for people with disability.

Ways can you vote
There are a number of new initiatives that will assist voting to be more accessible to everyone in our community. At the 2013 federal election, voters who are blind or have low vision will have three voting options:

New telephone voting option
Voters who are blind or vision impaired can telephone the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) call centre and cast a secret vote from any location, without attending an AEC office.

Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes speaking on the telephone illustrating how to vote in the election
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes
Voters must register to cast their vote by telephone. Registration for telephone voting starts two and a half weeks before election day and ends at 12 noon AEST on election day.

To register, voters need to call 1800913993. When a voter calls to register, they will be asked to select a PIN. Once registered, they will receive an acknowledgment letter at their enrolled address. The registration number can also be received by post, email, SMS or through a phone call.

Assisted voting at a polling place

Voters may choose to cast a vote with assistance at a polling place. A blind or vision impaired voter may choose an assistant to help cast their vote. The assistant reads the contents of the ballot paper then completes the ballot paper according to the voter’s preferences.

Assisted postal voting
Voters can cast a postal vote with the help of an assistant. The assistant may complete the ballot papers and envelope, but the voter must sign the envelope or make a mark as a signature.

Polling Place Voting
On election day you can go to your local polling place and complete your vote. To find out where your nearest polling place is you can search on the Electoral Commission website by suburb. It will also have a wheelchair symbol next to the listing to show that it is wheelchair accessible. Polling places open at 8am and close at 6pm sharp. 

image shot from behind showing 4 men, one man a wheelchair user, voting at a polling place.
If you’re not able for some reason to make it to a polling place on election day, then you can ‘pre-poll’ your vote at a pre-poll voting centre or divisional office in the lead up to election day.

You can find a list of pre-polling centres on the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) website, or you can call 13 23 26 to find out.

How to Vote - Practice Voting
If you haven’t voted before, or you think you might need a brush up on how to do it, there is a Practice Voting Tool available on the AEC website.

On election day you will recieve 2 pieces of paper - one for the House of Representatives which is green. The other will be a big white sheet of paper which is the Senate Ballot paper. The practice voting tool lets you practice on both of these ballot papers and will check to see if you’ve done it correctly!

For the House of Representatives you number 1 to 8 (1 is your first choice and 8 is your last choice) next to the Candidate’s name.

For the Senate Ballot Paper, you can choose to vote in two ways. The first way is ‘above the line’ where you put a ‘1’ in the box for the party or group of your choice. By doing this you’re allowing the order of your preference to be determined by the party or group you’re voting for.

The second way to vote on the Senate Ballot Paper is ‘below the line’ where you can choose to fill in every box below the line in order of your preference. You must put a ‘1’ in the box beside the candidate who is your first choice, ‘2’ in the box beside your second choice and so on, until you have numbered every box. You must number every box for your vote to count.

The AEC has also put together this useful video in Auslan, captions and audio. It gives an overview on the ins and outs of voting

To find out more on how to vote on election day you can visit the AEC’s website at  call 13 23 26 or email

If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment you can use the National Relay Service (NRS)
  • TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 13 23 26
  • Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 23 26
  • Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 13 23 26.

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