Post–election processes – frequently asked questions

Updated: 16 February 2022

Non-voters

You will receive a letter from the AEC if, according to our records, you did not vote at a recent federal election or by-election. If you did vote, you should advise the AEC and provide details by the due date.

If you didn’t vote, you will need to provide a valid and sufficient reason why, or pay the $20 penalty.

See electoral backgrounder – compulsory voting or non-voters for further information.

It is at the discretion of the AEC’s Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) for each electorate to determine whether you have provided a valid and sufficient reason for not voting.

The DRO will make a determination in accordance with section 245 (5) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The DRO will consider the merits of your individual case and take into account any specific circumstances at the polling places within their division in making a determination.

Please provide details of the reasons why you were unable to vote in the relevant section of the notice, and return it to the AEC. The DRO will consider the merits of your individual case and take into account any specific circumstances at the polling places within their division.

If the DRO is not satisfied that the reason you have provided is valid and sufficient, you will be notified by the AEC.

Multiple Voting

Multiple voting means voting more than once at any election.

Yes, it is an offence under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to vote more than once in a federal election. Penalties on conviction for this offence carry fines up to 60 penalty units, imprisonment for 12 months, or both.

Immediately after each federal election the AEC scans large volumes of voter lists from polling places and compares marked off names. The AEC follows up every case where a voter is marked off more than once. These are known as instances of 'apparent multiple marks'.

After initial examination of voter lists the AEC writes to voters who have apparent multiple marks against their name and requests they provide a response as to whether or not they voted more than once, and where. This is a comprehensive process that involves AEC further follow-up if no response is received, and continues until the task is complete. Responses are carefully assessed and distilled to the cases where the AEC cannot reasonably exclude the possibility that multiple voting has occurred. Prior experience indicates that most multiple voting instances are mistakes by voters, including instances of elderly voters casting their vote with a mobile team, and later at a polling place.

The AEC has no authority to prosecute multiple voting in a court of law. These are matters for the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to consider. Recourse exists within the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to take a matter to the Court of Disputed Returns if the number of multiple votes exceeds the winning margin in a seat but this has never occurred. The AEC prioritises its examination of multiple voting in close seats in the post-election period to ensure that an election result is safe.

Designated Electors

Subsection 202AH(1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 provides that the Electoral Commissioner may, in writing, declare an elector is a ‘designated elector’ if the Commissioner reasonably suspects the elector has voted more than once in the same election. This declaration can be made whether or not the elector has been convicted of a multiple voting offence under subsection 339(1A) or (1C) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

You will know if you have been declared a ‘designated elector’ when you receive a formal written notice of the declaration from the Electoral Commissioner.

You have been declared a ‘designated elector’ either because you have been convicted of the offence of multiple voting or the Electoral Commissioner has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have voted more than once at an election.

If you are declared a ‘designated elector’, you will only be able to vote by declaration vote at federal elections.

Declaration as a ‘designated elector’ will remain in force indefinitely unless you are declared a ‘designated elector’ because you have been convicted of the offence of multiple voting. In this case the declaration will remain in force unless the multiple voting conviction is quashed on appeal.

Polling staff will not know you are a ‘designated elector’. Your name will continue to appear on the certified list but your address will be supressed which alerts polling staff that you are required to vote by declaration vote.

If you are declared a ‘designated elector’ you will be directed to the Officer in Charge to be issued with a declaration vote.

The Officer in Charge will ask you to complete a declaration vote envelope and sign it before you are given ballot papers.

Additional voting measures applicable to ‘designated electors’ only apply to federal elections.

Yes, ‘designated electors’ can apply and vote by postal vote.

Yes, a complaint can be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

You are under no obligation to make a complaint or respond to being declared a ‘designated elector’.

Further information

The Australian Electoral Commission will not discuss matters subject to an investigation or provide you legal advice but will provide you further information in general terms about the measures discussed in these frequently asked questions. You may ask an advocate or support person to assist you in this respect. Public enquiry lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm local time (8.30am to 4.30pm in NT).

Enquiries

If you have questions regarding a non-voter notice, apparent multiple voting letter, or designated elector notice you have received, please contact us on 13 23 26 or online.

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