The Voice Referendum: How To Find Out If You Qualify To Vote Early And Where You Can Do It

With referendum day now only a few sleeps away, more than 2.2 million forward thinking Aussies have already voted in the Voice to Parliament referendum according to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). If you also want to vote early in the referendum, here’s how to find out if you qualify.

The early voting centres are now open, which means that anyone who is unable to cast their Yes/No ballot on October 14 is still able to have their say.

According to data from the AEC, the first few days of pre-polling have resulted in 2,212,581 votes at early polling centres.

But what do you do if you’re one of the people who has to vote early? And where can you do it?

How and why do people vote early?

You might be one of the millions of Australian’s who will vote early. This could be for a multitude of reasons, such as if on polling day you are:

  • Travelling (shoutout to the Euro trip girlies still voting)
  • Seriously ill or in hospital
  • Detained or in prison
  • Outside of your electorate
  • Unable to attend a polling venue for religious reasons
  • Living more than 8km away from a polling venue
  • Feeling sleepy
  • And more reasons here!

If you meet any of the above criteria, congratulations: you qualify for early voting!

Don’t think you can just lie about it though, no chuckin’ a sickie on voting day!

The AEC check with every person who comes to a pre-polling venue by asking if they are eligible for voting early. However, they do not ask any further questions.

Now you might be wondering, “if the votes are sent early, can they be counted early too?” Which is a fair question!

However, the AEC do NOT count votes early. As the patron saint of Australian Elections Antony Green once tweeted:

This is to ensure that all votes are kept anonymous, and none are lost, counted twice, or tampered with. The AEC is incredibly by-the-books — plus their social media game is A++.

Other methods for voting include voting over the phone, which can be carried out in any location and is helpful for voters who suffer from vision impairment. Of the 2.2 million who have already voted, mobile votes have made up approximately 92,162.

More accessibility info on voting support for people with disabilities can be found here.

How and where can you vote early?

If you have met any of the above requirements for early voting, all you need to do to have your say before October 14 is find your nearest pre-polling centre, register your name, and you’ll be casting your ballot in no time!

To find your nearest pre-polling centre, check the AEC’s site here.

Simply select that you want to vote before referendum day, enter your postcode, and click “Find polling places” to see all your nearby voting locations!

For instance, here’s the closest early polling centres for if you happen to live at the Prime Minister’s lodge in Kirribilli.

Closest early polling options for if you are the PM. Source: AEC.

You can also vote early through postal voting.

What is postal voting?

This means that you get sent an official ballot by the AEC, and do not need to turn up to a polling venue on the date of a vote/election.

You must apply to be a postal voter in this referendum by before 6pm on October 11. 

A referendum postal vote. Source: Getty.

Postal voters must ensure that their vote is completed and sealed by 6pm on voting day, and that the AEC receive their ballot no later than 13 days after.

In the federal election last year, almost 1.8 million Aussies had their say via a postal vote.

Already the AEC have seen 1,945,823 people apply for a postal vote in the referendum.

Just like other early voting methods, postal votes are not counted in any different way to standard votes! The only difference is that they take more time, depending on those people whose mail doesn’t arrive to the AEC officials until that final 13th day!

However be sure to get in fast, as

Why doesn’t everyone vote early?

Now you forward thinking girlies might be plotting away right now, thinking to yourself: “Hey, if I vote early, I can have my Saturday off without having to spend ages in a line while waiting to vote! What’s wrong with that?”

As much as voting and time management are my two most favourite things, the AEC strongly encourage you to vote on the day of democracy with the rest of the country.

Everyone voting early can lead to a decrease in voter turnout, and also might mean that more uninformed votes are made that wouldn’t have happened, if the voter had waited ’til the correct day.

Additionally, the AEC have prepared for everyone to vote in mass on October 14, such as preparing the correct amount of volunteers for that day. If everyone tried to vote early, it would end up causing more chaos than convenience.

Plus why would you want to vote early anyway if it means missing out on a delicious Democracy Sausage? It’s our nation’s finest and only delicacy.