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Trends in early voting in federal elections

Early voting for the 2019 federal election commenced on Monday 29 April 2019. Early votes include pre-poll ordinary votes (pre-poll votes cast by a voter at a pre-poll voting centre for their electorate), pre-poll declaration votes (pre-poll votes cast outside a voter’s division, such as overseas and interstate) and postal votes (which can be applied for from the issue of the writs). The rise of pre-poll voting, particularly pre-poll ordinary, has been a notable trend in federal elections since 2010. Read more...

What's different about the 2019 federal election?

Every federal election is unique, but some are more unique than others. Due to a variety of factors such as extensive boundary redistributions and changes in legislation, the 2019 federal election is different from previous elections in a number of ways. Read more...

Online political communication—does this post need to be authorised?

‘Spoken by J Jones. Authorised by S Smith, Canberra.’ This familiar phrase, spoken rapidly at the end of a TV ad, is a common feature of Australian elections, and is an example of an authorisation statement required by law to allow voters to know the source of the advertising. While these statements have traditionally been found on political advertising on TV, radio and in newspapers, recent changes to the law have expanded the range of communications considerably, with social media, internet video and streaming music now covered (but not sky writing or graffiti). Read more...

Proposed amendments to the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017

The Senate is expected to debate the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017 (the Bill) in the sitting week beginning 15 October 2018. The Bill has a somewhat complex history, with the original Bill released in July 2017. Following considerable public debate, and a JSCEM advisory report, the Government announced proposed amendments to the Bill. On 20 September 2018 the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) announced an inquiry into the proposed amendments. Read more...

What’s in a name: the redistributions of the 45th Parliament

With the announcement of the final boundaries for electorates in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the electoral redistributions of the 45th Parliament have now been completed. The addition of a seat each to Victoria and the ACT, and the loss of a seat in South Australia, will see 151 House of Representatives seats up for election at the next federal election—the largest number in the history of the Parliament. Read more...

Known unknowns about the same sex marriage survey

Following its failure to reintroduce the Plebiscite (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill 2016 to the Senate Notice Paper, the Government has directed the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to conduct a survey of all electors ‘about whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry’. In the absence of enabling legislation, and with no historical precedent of the ABS running a national survey of all electors, there remain many unanswered questions as to how the vote will proceed, both in terms of law and logistics. Read more...

Bob Day found to be incapable of being chosen as a senator

On 5 April 2017 the High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns, handed down its decision in Re Day [No 2] [2017], HCA 14 regarding former South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day (Mr Day resigned from the Senate on 1 November 2016). The Court found that Mr Day was incapable of being chosen or sitting as a senator by reason of section 44(v) of the Australian Constitution, and ordered that the vacancy be filled by a recount.   Read more...

Voting online? Don’t count on it

In the 2013 Federal Election, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) lost 1,370 ballot papers. Subsequent inquiries examined the selection of polling locations, the transport and storage of completed ballot papers, and the recruitment and training of temporary staff in short timeframes. The logistics are challenging, but are they necessary? We already do our banking and shopping online – why not voting? Read more...

Still room for improvement at the Australian Electoral Commission

The Federal Election of 7 September 2013 was notable in a number of respects, not least because the loss by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) of 1,370 ballot papers resulted in a new election for WA Senators being held on 5 April 2014. In the wake of the loss of ballot papers, the Auditor-General, Ian McPhee, committed to conducting three performance audits of the AEC, the first of which was tabled in May 2014. The second follow-up audit was tabled on 5 November 2014, with a finding that the AEC had not adequately addressed the recommendations of an audit in 2009–10.  Read more...

Are the good burghers of Griffith poised to make history? – House of Representatives by-elections 1901–2014

The Australian Electoral Commission has announced the candidates who have nominated to fill the vacancy caused by Kevin Rudd's resignation. Early voting has begun so it’s a good time to review some of the history of by-elections for the House of Representatives. The Griffith by-election is due to be held on 8 February 2014, 1526 days since the previous by-election, a period exceeded only by Balaclava (Vic) and Macquarie (NSW) in 1951 (1946 days) and Fremantle (WA) in 1945 (1547 days). Here we draw on Stephen Barber, Christopher Lawley, Scott Bennett and Gerard Newman's paper from 2009 (House of Representatives by-elections 1901-2009), which is still current as there have been no... Read more...

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