COVID positive? Apply for a postal vote

Updated: 15 May 2022

With less than one week remaining until Election Day, the Australian Electoral Commission is today outlining how people who test positive to COVID-19 in the coming days can vote.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said that while elections are in-person community events, the AEC continues to accommodate necessary changes for the global pandemic.

“We’re accounting for the pandemic in many aspects of election delivery, including options for COVID-19 positive voters in isolation,” Mr Rogers said.

“If you test positive today, or in the next few days, you’ll be in isolation until after polls close on Saturday, and need to apply for a postal vote.”

Postal vote applications are open until 6pm Wednesday 18 May 2022.

“Applications this late in the election period should only be submitted by voters who have no other voting option.”

“This will primarily be people who test positive to COVID-19, haven’t voted yet and won’t be out of isolation until after Election Day.”

The impact of increased postal votes

So far, approximately 2.5 million postal vote applications have been received, up from 1.5 million at the previous federal election in 2019.

“There is a sting in the tail with so many postal vote applications this election, and that is the count.”

“We simply cannot count postal votes on election night - we’re already at the limits of our staffing capacity, and work health and safety responsibilities, with the count of election day and pre-poll votes”.

“With 105,000 staff, we’re temporarily one of the nation’s largest employers, which is an undoubted resourcing challenge during COVID-19.”

Postal vote counts have been brought forward in the counting timetable from 2019 when it commenced on the Tuesday after election day. Postal vote counts will begin on the Sunday afternoon following election day this federal election.

“If it’s a close result in individual seats, or overall in the House of Representatives, this level of postal votes makes an election night indication of who forms government less likely.”

“In many ways the speed of the count is the biggest effect COVID will have on how this election is run.”

“The election night parties haven’t seen a result in two of the past four federal elections, and COVID-19 may add 2022 to that list.”

Telephone voting

People who test positive to COVID-19 from mid-week onwards, who haven’t already voted, and have missed the postal vote application deadline, will be able to access a telephone vote.

Information about the telephone voting service will be available to voters who need it once postal vote applications close.

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