Voting in all federal elections in Australia is a legal obligation for citizens aged 18 and over. Failing to vote can result in a fine and potentially land you in court. Voting has been compulsory since 1924, and enrolling to vote in federal elections has been compulsory since 1918, whereby voting is governed by the Electoral Act 1918.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is the federal body ensuring elections are run fairly and abide by the law. Political parties and independents who promote their messages to the public must abide by AEC’s jurisdiction, whereby they also have organisation and management of enrolments for voting. Countries such as the United States opt for ‘Elective voting’, meaning there is no penalty for not voting. Australia has ‘Compulsory voting’, making voting compulsory for citizens who meet the requirements to be eligible to vote.
Failure to vote in the federal election initially results in a $20 fine as per section 245 of the Act, which can grow if left unpaid to a $220 fine and court fees. The AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) has registered 17.2 million voters for 2022. If an individual is registered to vote with the AEC and has not checked off the electoral roll, the AEC will provide them with a letter asking for an explanation as to the failure to vote. Once receiving the letter, it to possible to:
It is possible that the reason given may be rejected. If an individual is prosecuted, they may incur a $220 penalty plus court costs. Further failure to pay the penalty will incur further action taken by the court according to circumstances such as:
If you’re in court for failure to vote and wish to seek advice on the matter, be sure to seek expert advice from a lawyer here.
Individuals who cannot vote in Australia are:
All other Australian citizens who are of the age of 18 and above must vote.
Failure to vote isn’t likely to end with imprisonment. However, charges such as electoral fraud, which can be committed by casting more than one vote, may have the accused face up to 6 months imprisonment as per Section 339 of the Act.
The section states that a person shall not:
The Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) evaluate whether a reason given for not voting is valid and sufficient, also utilising precedent to maintain fair evaluation. Valid reasons for not voting can include:
Reasons such as not liking the selection of whom to vote for are not a valid reasons for failure to vote and will incur the penalty of a $20 fine. It is imperative to note that if your reason given for not voting is rejected, court proceedings may occur against you.