Elections are a huge deal, not just because we’ll be flexing our democratic muscles, but because the actual physical act of pulling off the balloting of some 16.4 million people in a very short window is no small feat.
The Australian Electoral Commission, who recently hosted an ‘ask me anything’ on Reddit, reckons it takes four years to plan for an election, and they manage to squeeze it into three. In fact, they’re already planning the 2025 election.
There’s a lot to get done in the 33 days between the calling of an election and the eating of democracy sausage, which is why the electoral roll has to close seven full days after the announcement.
This gives you between now and next Monday, April 18, to ensure that you are registered to vote and that all of your details are updated.
It’s not long at all and Easter makes things even more difficult. If you jet off for your Easter Hols on Thursday evening and don’t get back until Monday, you’ll have missed the boat. Don’t let this be you!
How to Make Sure You’re Registered to Vote
Every Australian citizen above the age of 18 who has lived at the same address for the past month legally has to vote in Australia. Failure to do so can result in a fine that varies depending on your state or territory.
If you’ve never registered to vote — possibly because you’ve turned 18 in the past few years, for example — you need to do so.
If you’re registering for the first time and you should have been registered in the past, don’t worry, the AEC does not fine people for failing to register.
If you’ve had a change of address or a change of name since the last election, you’ll need to update your voter registration details. Not doing so doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be able to vote, but it might make it more difficult, particularly the change of address, so to ensure nothing goes wrong on election day and you can vote without issue, it’s best to update.
If you’re not sure whether or not you’re registered to vote, or if your details are correct, you can check on the AEC website here.
How to Register
Registration can be done online, in person, or by mail and has to be completed by Monday, April 18 at 8pm local time.
However, with the Easter Weekend coming up, the AEC is strongly recommending that people do not register to vote by post if they can avoid it. They have said that unless your application is in the mail by the time the post office shuts on Wednesday, April 13, it may not make it to them in time and you won’t be registered.
This means in-person voting or online is the way to go. Again, Easter limits the amount of AEC offices that will be open around the country, so if you can register online, this is likely your best option.
Online registration takes five minutes and can be done here. All you will need is your driver’s licence or your passport to confirm your identity.
What Happens if You Don’t Register to Vote
However, failure to register means you’ll be unable to vote on election day and therefore could end up facing a fine because of it.
The bigger issue is that failing to register means you won’t get to participate in choosing who runs the country for the next three years and you won’t get a democracy sausage.
For young people, this is a big issue.
Some 57% of 18-year-olds in Australia are not registered to vote. This means that they’ll miss out on their first election if they don’t get their act together before Monday.
Given that major political parties often ignore young people, failing to register simply enhances the belief that young people don’t matter as much in politics, and thus, they won’t gear policies towards the things that they’re passionate about.
Make sure you’re registered, make sure you’re ready for the election and make sure your vote gets counted.