Voting - Why it Really is Important

Posted on 13 August 2013

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has now set the Federal Election date as 7th September, 2013. Election day is an important event for a nation as it is an opportunity for all citizens to have their say about crucial leadership issues in this country. Voting at an election became compulsory in Australia in 1924, when it was decided that every citizen should have an equal right to vote and since that time all Australian citizens over the age of 18 have been legally required to cast their vote on Election day.

The Australian Electoral Commission reminds us of why this day is so important – “It is a great privilege to be able to choose those who govern us because in many parts of the world today not everyone is as fortunate. People around the world have gone to great lengths to make their votes count. In some parts of the world, people can queue for hours to take part in their country's election. Being active in the electoral process enables you to have your say in who runs your country, paying the ultimate respect to those people who worked to secure these rights on your behalf. It is not only your right and privilege to vote, but your responsibility to do so.”

With those sobering words in mind, here are a few reminders in preparation for election day to consider in advance to ensure your vote will count on September 7th.

  • If you have changed address or name, act promptly to ensure the correct details are listed and you can vote in your new area or under your new name. Follow these links: enrol or change your address or name details on the electoral roll;
  • If you hold Power of Attorney for another person you CANNOT vote on their behalf. No proxy vote option is provided for in Australian federal elections.
  • If you will be away from your electorate on the day of voting, you can apply for a postal vote - apply for a 'postal vote' . The ballot papers will be sent to you and must be posted back before polling day, or a “pre-poll vote” can be cast in person at designated centres prior to polling day. Centre locations and dates will be published as pre-election date information becomes available.

If you fail to vote, you will be asked to provide a reason for not doing so and a penalty of $20.00 may be imposed. Failure to respond or pay the penalty may see the matter taken to court and the fine will increase to $50.00 plus court costs. Whilst $20.00 or even $50.00 may not seem like a large amount, voting in a Federal election is your opportunity to have your say. Don’t miss it.

As an added bonus however, as voting often takes place in school halls, you will most likely get the opportunity to support your local school at their sausage sizzle or cake stall, so role up to cast your vote and support your local community