Enrol and Register To Vote: You Can Make A Difference

Truth is, you affect the outcome of all elections
whether you vote or not. If you don’t vote, that’ll translate to everyone else's vote counting for more and lead to someone with the leadership skills of a bag of leaves or communication skills of a spoilt yappy dog being elected. Moral of the story? Get involved. Get informed. Pay Attention. And Vote.

*URGENT*: The Australian Federal election has been called for 24th November 2007. If your details on the electoral roll are wrong you won’t be allowed to vote. Please READ THIS ARTICLE NOW so you know how to fix your details and be able to vote.

If you’re an Australian, you can check whether you’re Registered to Vote within a few seconds online.

If your name isn’t on the records, whether it’s because you’ve just turned 18 and never been registered, moved house and changed address, married or divorced and changed your surname or some other reason than fill in the required Australian Electoral Commission forms immediately.

If you post the form in it will quite likely be processed too late.

You may scan and email your completed form to info@aec.gov.au or enter your postcode into the AEC website and fax it in to your local AEC office.

If you need to enrol to vote, the deadline is 8pm Wednesday 17th October. If your details are not up-to-date, you have until 8 pm on Tuesday 23rd October to update them.

The Howard government has recently used it’s majority in the senate to push draconian new electoral laws through the Senate which mean you risk missing out on being able to vote if you’re not already enrolled, or haven’t made sure that your name or address details on the electoral rolls are up to date after moving home.

Now the electoral rolls will close the day an election is called, denying hundreds of thousands of people the right to enrol or change their details. Young people and new migrants will be particularly disenfranchised. Prisoners have had their right to vote removed and the homeless will find it harder to vote with new identification requirements.

Why You Should Enrol to Vote

As Government decisions influence many aspects of our daily life, voting provides an opportunity for electors to actively participate in the democratic process of making a choice at an election between the ideologies and policies of the various parties/groups or independent candidates.

One Vote Can Make a Huge Difference

Every vote counts. The 1968 election result saw Labor and Liberal each winning 19 seats in the [South Australian] House of Assembly; the remaining seat (the 39th) was held by an Independent member who was elected to the position of Speaker and therefore had a casting vote. In 1970 he voted against the government resulting in the announcement of an early election.

Historically just one vote has made a difference on many occasions.

  • One vote lost Sir John Gorton the Prime Ministership of Australia in a leadership contest in 1971.
  • One vote made the Hon. Des Corcoran member for Millicent in 1968.
  • One vote gave Adolf Hitler the leadership of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in 1923.
  • One vote following the second reading of the ‘Adult Suffrage Bill’ (enfranchising women) in the House of Assembly ensured it passed to the third reading stage in 1894.
  • One vote changed France from a Monarchy to a Republic in 1875.
  • One vote decided that Americans would speak English rather than German in 1776.
  • One vote made Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England in 1653.
  • Two votes in 1993 won Sydney the right to stage the year 2000 Olympic Games.

– Source: South Australian State Electoral Office

Over 500,000 Australians May Miss Out On Their Chance to Vote

Every day the population of Australia grows by about 700 people. Every two minutes there is an extra Australian. At least, that is, if you believe the Bureau of Statistics. But according to the Australian Electoral Commission the population of Australia is in decline.

The population of Australia has grown by about half a million in the last two years [to 2007], but that hasn’t shown up on the electoral roll. Unless the situation gets fixed, come election day half a million Australians are going to miss out on their chance to vote.

The Victorian election appears to provide some good news – putting on those thousands of extra enrolments in three months as the election came round – who cares if people are not on the roll when there is nothing to vote for?

However, looking closer, things are actually even worse than they seem: 26,000 of those people added to the roll as a result of the election got added too late to vote. Mostly they are people who turned up at the polling booth, found they were not on the roll and filled out a form then.

There is a crumb of comfort that they will be ready for the federal election, but their equivalents in other states may not.

Even worse, a great many of the forty thousand who did get on the roll in Victoria in time to vote only did so because they had plenty of warning (fixed term elections) and could do so after the election campaign hit full swing.

At the federal election this year [2007] that won’t be the case. Changes to the law mean that anyone not on the roll has one day after the election is called to enrol. Not many will.

Half a million voters is 3,000 per seat. Enough to make a pretty sizeable difference to the election result one would think. Of course, if the voters who have been kicked off, and the new ones not added, were a random selection none of this would matter, except in a philosophical sense.

But if past experience is any guide the missing voters are not random – they’re young people who’ve just turned 18 and renters who have moved house (the two groups obviously overlap a bit). And both these groups are disproportionately likely to vote Labor and Green.

That doesn’t mean that the ALP can look forward to missing 3,000 votes per seat. But it does mean that, after preferences, a few hundred more votes are more likely to be missing from the Labor column than the Liberal.

Presumably the more astute Labor candidates e onto this, and are employing people to check that, in marginal seats at least, people are properly enrolled. But if you want to know why there is a high chance the Senate will stay in Liberal hands, no matter what happens in the House, it’s worth considering the collective impact of all the un-enrolled voters. And asking a few searching questions of the Australian Electoral Commission.

Source: Where have all the voters gone? – article on crikey.com.au

Even if you think you’re Registered to Vote on the electoral rolls, confirm it within a few seconds online. I checked a while ago and found out that for some reason I had dropped off the list so I re-added my details.

Note: Image modified from free Enrol To Vote promotional materials supplied by the non-partisan website Ad Council (USA)


9 responses to “Enrol and Register To Vote: You Can Make A Difference”

  1. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It pays to be informed. The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Indeed it is.

    EDITOR: no problems Robert

    Although I’m part of a political party myself this is a non-partisan article

    My aim is to encourage as many people to enrol and vote, regardless of which party they vote for because living in a representative democracy the only way to hold the government of the day (whether it’s federal, state or local) accountable is at the ballot box on election day.

  2. You make a very good point here. Your vote can make all the difference.

  3. I hope you reach a lot of people with this article. It the the right and responsibility of every citizen to vote…

  4. I vote therefor I am.

  5. Wow. 700 people a day? That’s insane. It seems like it would only take a few years to have your country over-populate, haha. Great post and I hope you reach the audience you are looking for!

    EDITOR: Not really, 700 people per day = roughly 1/4 million extra people every year

    On the other hand there are plenty of people who think that our population is already higher than Australia’s carrying capacity (ability to sustainably provide for the population).

  6. Many Australians will be denied their vote this year – and that’s not just under-eighteens, foreigners, prisoners and pets – and a number of those will only find out when they front up to a booth on election day to flex their democratic muscle.

    The insidious and much-derided changes to the Electoral Act (or in Orwellian double-speak the incredulously named “Electoral Integrity Act”) will do much to disenfranchise and disempower by increasing the burden and decreasing the time for people to enrol (among other undemocratic aspects, and despite a $12 million advertising campaign that a GetUp-commissioned poll found 82% of Australians were still unaware of), but there is also another worrying aspect to the processes of voter enrolment that predates these changes and lurks waiting for unscrupulous politicians to exploit.

    People may be removed from the electoral roll for many reasons, and the AEC has a perfectly legitimate if not unenviable role of ensuring the roll reflects reality as closely as practicable. One such reason is if official electoral mail finds its way back, marked “Return to Sender”. In fact it is in this way that the AEC can constantly monitor and update their records to reflect the transient habits of an increasingly mobile populus.

    But it is not just mail from the AEC that can lead to unenrolment via this path. If MPs and Senators have their mail returned to sender, they can inform the AEC, who can then begin to remove those people from the electoral roll.

    Perhaps this is not so alarming in itself, but there is nothing to regulate or monitor the activities of the politicians in this respect, and it is not unimaginable to envision a party selectively mailing those groups or areas unlikely to vote for them, and then selectively reporting the “returned to senders” to suit their psephological fancies.

    Add to that equation the advantage of incumbency, and now the early roll closure, and this process could be timed to remove vast swathes of unfavourable demographics without the prospects of them correctly reenrolling – if indeed they find out they have been removed in the first place (the AEC sends them a letter to investigate, and then to inform them of removal, but to the address the original mail unanswered).

    If you think this scenario is cynical beyond the realm of all likelihood, consider this – the Howard Government’s changes to the electoral laws will disenfranchise these groups above all others – the young, the itinerant, the Indigenous, and (until the recent High Court decision) the incarcerated. All these groups are statistically unlikely to vote conservatively. It is not a great leap to extend this demographically-selective disenfranchisement to a zealous parliamentary mailer, and that should be enough to concern all but the enemies of democracy.

    – “Your vote returned to sender?” from http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20070914-Your-vote-returned-to-sender.html

  7. Cliche after cliche,” Of all evils, vote the lesser one”. So silly but sometimes quite true. It is not the politics that is bedraggled and cruddy but I think the politicians are. Seven deadly sins are blustering inside and hardly to resist it. Some of those are greediness and slothful. So, therefore I conclude and exclaimed at the top of my lungs that One Vote makes a gigantic change.

  8. I agree.. very good point. I want to make sure i am registered this coming year so that I can vote. I didn’t vote last time and I regret it everytime a conversation like this comes up.

  9. One important reason why PM John Howard should not remain in office is his unfair harsh workplace reforms. Under his fantastic new WorkChoices legislation, the average worker has the choice to either earn less money, or work more hours. Now that’s a great choice, isn’t it?!

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