13 October 2023

Thousands of Canberrans have cast their ballots in the Voice referendum as early voting in full swing

| Lizzie Waymouth
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voting centre in Gungahlin

Early voting is underway: 7720 people have cast their votes at Gungahlin Square as of Sunday. Photo: AEC.

Thousands of Canberrans have already voted in the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum as early voting gets underway in the ACT.

According to the AEC, more than 2.2 million people across Australia have cast their ballots as of Sunday (7 October) at an early voting centre, compared to 2 million at the same stage of the 2022 election.

A further 1.9 million Australians have applied for a postal vote, compared to 2.5 million at the same period in the last election.

In the ACT, more than 38,000 people have voted at one of the Territory’s seven pre-poll voting centres so far.

Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said that early voting centres will remain open until Friday for people who cannot make it to a polling place on Saturday, 14 October.

“If you’re busy on Saturday or aren’t certain of your circumstances, then you need to plan where and when you’ll be able to cast your vote.” Mr Rogers said.

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One of the pre-poll voting centres Canberrans can visit is the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

MOAD’s director, Stephanie Bull, said the museum attracted a strong turnout of visitors when it opened its doors to early voters on Saturday (7 October).

MOAD is open every day from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm until Friday (13 October) for early voting, and it will be open from 8 am to 6 pm on referendum day, with a democracy sausage sizzle and other activities for voters and visitors.

“On our first day of early voting we welcomed nearly 2000 visitors, the majority here to vote,” she said.

According to AEC data, 1779 votes were cast at MOAD on Saturday.

“The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House is a remarkable place to cast your ballot. Vote in the place where decisions that shaped the nation were made, and where history happened. We’re inviting Australians to have their say in this magnificent building,” Ms Bull said.

A record number of Australians enrolled to vote in the referendum, with 97.7 per cent of eligible voters enrolled to cast their ballots on Saturday.

In the ACT, 316,837 people have enrolled to vote, out of an estimated 323,319 eligible voters, amounting to roughly 98 per cent.

It’s also not too late to apply for a postal vote. The AEC is reminding voters to apply and return their completed ballot papers as quickly as possible. If you cannot apply for a postal vote before the deadline on Wednesday evening, you may need to visit an early voting centre instead.

Mr Rogers said that postal votes must be filled out and be appropriately witnessed before the close of polling on referendum day.

“While the official deadline to apply for a postal vote is 6 pm on Wednesday, 11 October, last-minute applications risk that ballot papers may not arrive in time, despite our best efforts. If this is your case, you may need to consider attending an early voting centre,” Mr Rogers said.

“The key takeaway is to be quick to make sure your vote is counted.”

The AEC has pointed out that it must legally wait until close of business on Friday, 27 October, for postal votes to be returned to be counted.

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You can vote at an early voting centre or by postal vote if you:

  • are outside the electorate where you are enrolled to vote
  • are more than 8 km from a polling place
  • are travelling
  • are unable to leave your workplace to vote
  • are seriously ill, infirm or due to give birth shortly (or caring for someone who is)
  • are a patient in hospital and can’t vote at the hospital
  • have religious beliefs that prevent you from attending a polling place
  • are in prison serving a sentence of less than three years or otherwise detained
  • are a silent elector, or
  • have a reasonable fear for your safety or wellbeing.

For more information on how and where to vote, visit the AEC referendum 2023 website.

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