*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.
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  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.
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)