Early voting a chance for all to have their say

Early voting opened on Monday April 29. Photo: Scott Sandon

For Australians who are unable to get to a polling booth on May 18, early voting lets voters exercise their democratic rights despite any limiting circumstances.

In the first three days of early voting, more than 374,000 people have voted.

Early voting is open to those Australians who can’t attend a polling booth on election day because they live over eight kilometres away from a polling place, are seriously ill or infirm, are travelling outside their electorate that day, or meet one of the other eligibility criteria as laid out by the Australian Electoral Commission.

AEC Public Awareness Officer Lacey Holtfreter said that early voting allows people to vote in the federal election if they can’t attend on polling day.

“In Western Australia, the AEC will be operating around 60 early voting centres and approximately 70 mobile teams, with postal voting another option to vote early,” Holtfreter said.

“Voters who are eligible to cast their vote before election day are encouraged to visit the AEC website for opening dates and times.”

The early voting station on St. George’s Terrace in Perth’s CBD. Photo: Scott Sandon

Early voters Kathy and Al (who declined to provide their surnames for security reasons) suggested that those who wanted to vote early without meeting the criteria could simply claim they are travelling abroad to staff at an early voting centre.

However, voters should be aware that lying on legal documents such as early voting slips can be grounds for a perjury charge.

Kathy elaborated on what is likely to be a common reason for those who decide to vote early.

“We won’t be here [on May 18], so we need to do it,” Kathy said.

She expressed surprise at the speed of the process.

“It was really quick,” Kathy said.

“I thought it was gonna be delayed because it’s lunchtime.”

Al expressed concerns that voting early meant he would be unable to react to a shifting political climate.

“If something actually drastic happens between now and election day, we can’t vote again,” Al said.

“I can’t imagine anything that would change my vote, it’d have to be something really drastic but it could happen.”

To find your nearest early voting station, visit the AEC’s website.