Filming/photography in AEC polling and counting venues

Your right to privacy and filming

The privacy of AEC staff and voters at polling places and counting venues during an election is paramount. The AEC safeguards the privacy of staff, voters and the secrecy of the ballot by not permitting filming or photography of the following by the general public:

  • AEC staff
  • The electoral roll and certified lists
  • Other voters
  • Other people’s votes

Media are only ever allowed to film inside a polling place or a counting centre after obtaining permission from the AEC and agreeing to follow media attendance guidelines. These guidelines require the media to respect staff and voter privacy and the secrecy of the vote. More information on media attendance at polling locations and counting venues can be found below.

Taking photographs or filming in a polling place without prior permission could result in a direction from polling staff to stop doing so. It is an offence to disobey a lawful direction and an offending person can be requested to leave the premises and removed from the premises by the Officer in Charge or a police officer. 

For more information on polling place offences, visit the online Electoral backgrounder.

Media attendance at AEC polling locations and counting venues

Official media representatives often film aspects of the voting process or political candidates casting their vote. This is longstanding practice in Australia, with media representatives required to adhere to clear media attendance guidelines and obtain permission from the AEC before filming.

Notable elements of the media guidelines include:

  • Respecting the privacy of people who do not want to be filmed
  • Respecting the secrecy of other electors’ ballots
  • Adhering to the lawful directions of the Officer in Charge at all times
  • No access to ballot paper secure zones, and no filming of items in those zones

Sometimes, political candidates will display their completed ballot paper to the media. Media are only ever allowed to film a completed ballot paper with permission from the candidate who has cast the vote.

Media must respect the secrecy of other voters’ ballot papers. The secrecy of the ballot enables voters to vote privately, securely and safely.

Transparency in the process

There are various mechanisms in place to ensure the collection and counting of votes is conducted in the most transparent way possible. Certain transparency measures are required by law, and the AEC is required to count votes within strictly legislated timeframes. To do this, the AEC employs over 100,000 temporary election staff from the general public who each contribute to collecting and counting the votes.

The entire voting and counting process is also open to scrutineers who observe and verify the process. Scrutineers play an important role in maintaining Australia’s world-leading reputation for electoral transparency and integrity. Scrutineers are entitled by law to observe the process in polling and counting centres on behalf of political participants and the public. They can also observe the breaking of security seals on ballot boxes and challenge counting decisions made by AEC staff.

Finally, all election results are published on the online Tally Room for public access.

These measures ensure the AEC delivers a rigorously transparent process, while also protecting the privacy of voters and our staff and respecting the secrecy of the ballot.

Updated: 20 February 2024