26 February 2013
Measures to modernise the postal voting provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and improve the way postal vote applications are made and processed were passed by the Senate last night and will shortly become law.
Special Minister of State Gary Gray said the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill implemented recommendations made by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its report into the 2010 Federal election.
“At the 2010 election, the Electoral Commission processed more than one million postal votes, which was a 17.8 per cent increase in the number processed at the 2007 election,” Mr Gray said.
“The amendments will improve the way postal vote applications are handled by enabling centralised electronic processing and dispatch.
“They do not fundamentally change the existing policy underpinning the current arrangements for postal voting.”
Mr Gray said the amendments also included incentives to prevent the growth in the size of ballot papers, by increasing the number of electors required to nominate an unendorsed candidate as well as nomination fees. In the 2010 election, the Senate ballot paper in NSW exceeded a metre in width, with 84 candidates of which 42 received fewer than 200 first preference votes.
The legislation had cross-party support. It is part of a package of reforms that have been made to the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Last year the Parliament completed the passage of two important laws to target 1.5 million Australians who are entitled to vote but are not even on the roll.
The Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Maintaining Address) Act and the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Protecting Elector Participation) Act allow the Electoral Commission to enrol electors, or update their details, by using reliable third party information.
Postal vote application forms for the September 14 election are expected to be available around the same time as the issue of the writs on August 12.
|John Arthur||0408 991 261|