How to vote in this year’s Federal Election including how to postal vote, understanding ballot papers and more explained

This year’s federal election will be the nation’s first during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s already thought things will look very different.

Postal and early voting is set to surge, with people keen to avoid long lines at polling places on election day.

Here’s how you can make sure your voice is heard at the ballot box.

Unsure on how to vote? Read on. (Getty)

All Australian citizens over the age of 18 are required to enroll as a voter with the Australian Electoral Commission.

You can do that online here, or visit an AEC centre in person.
If you’ve moved or changed your name since you last voted, you need to update your details at the AEC website, or in person.

I’m enrolled – how can I vote?

While Australia’s election days are designed to be in-person events, postal and early voting is also permitted.

People need to have a good reason for it though – such as having to work on election day, or if you’re going to be outside the electorate you’re enrolled in.

If you can’t vote on election day, there will be in-person early voting centres open around the country, with the details to be published on the AEC website.

It’s anticipated there will be a surge in postal voting this year, due in large part to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’re isolating with COVID-19 or as a close contact on election day and didn’t have time to apply for a postal vote, you will be able to cast your vote via phone.

What if I want to vote on election day?

Closer to the ballot, The AEC website will post the location of polling places in your electorate online.

These will be open from 8am to 6pm on the day.

One way or another, I’ve got my ballot papers. Now what?

All voters receive two separate ballot papers.

The smaller, green ballot paper lists the candidates for your electorate who are aiming for the House of Representatives – the Lower House.

To ensure your vote is counted, you must number each box, with “1” beside your most preferred candidate, “2” by your second-most preferred, and so on.

election ballot paper
A sample ballot paper for the House of Representatives. (AEC)

If just one box is left un-checked, it will be assumed the unmarked box is for the voter’s least-preferred candidate.

But any other gaps in the numbering will mean the ballot is deemed informal, and it will be discarded.

Easy enough – but the other paper is much bigger…

The larger white ballot is for the Senate, and there are two ways to fill it out.

Anybody choosing to vote “above the line” must mark at least six boxes 1-6. Again, your preferred party gets “1”, and so on. You can number more than six boxes, but six is the required minimum.

Voting above the line means your preferences will first be distributed to the candidates in the party or group of your first choice, then to candidates in the party or group of your second choice and so on.

Voting below the line means you will vote for individual Senate candidates, rather than parties or groups.

Choosing this option means you will have to number at least 12 boxes for your preferred Senate aspirates, 1-12.

I can’t find anybody I want to vote for. Do I have to?

There is no penalty for casting an informal vote – whether it’s a mistake or intentional.

But you are required to turn up to the polling place regardless, and get your name checked off the rolls – unless you’ve voted early.

Failing to do so could result in a fine.

election ballot paper
A sample ballot paper for the Senate. (AEC)

One more thing – what is a “democracy sausage”?

The perfect post-vote treat. Make sure to bring some spare coins so you don’t miss out.

Political photo ops that captured the attention of punters on social media

And you can practice voting with substitute ballot papers here.

Reference-www.9news.com.au

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