Voting is compulsory for all electors with the exception of those living or travelling abroad, itinerant electors and electors located in the Antarctic.
Contrary to the widely held belief that an elector only has to attend a polling place and have their name marked off the roll, the electoral Act specifically states that it shall be the duty of every elector to vote in each election and is quite specific about how ballot papers must be marked. The fact that voting is a private act performed in public means that the identity will never be discovered of electors who may deface their ballot paper or place it unmarked in the ballot box. Nonetheless, the law is still very clear on this point
Some prisoners are excluded from voting although some of the relevant provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act were ruled invalid in the case of Roach v Electoral Commissioner (2007) 233 CLR 162. Replacement legislation was enacted in 2011. The penalty for failing to vote without a valid and sufficient reason is $20 or, if the matter is dealt with in court, a fine not exceeding $50.
Electors may vote at any polling place in the House of Representatives electorate for which they are enrolled, at any polling place in the same state or territory (absent voting) or at an interstate voting centre if they are travelling interstate on election day. Under prescribed circumstances electors may vote by post or cast a pre-poll vote.
Special arrangements are also made for ballots to be cast by eligible voters in hospitals, prisons and remote locations including Antarctica, and those travelling or residing abroad.