Accessible voting options
Mark the 21st of May 2022 in your calendar as the date set for the next federal election. At Healthcare Australia, we believe everyone should have the right to vote and have their say on who will lead the country. It is especially important to make sure there are accessible voting options for the disabled community.
Voting can be a daunting task for some people. Understanding all the steps of enrolment, where you are enrolled to vote, how you can vote, and what to do on the day, can be an overwhelming experience for anyone.
This process can be even more difficult for people with a disability. They may be unaware of all the steps they need to undertake to be able to vote, and what they need to do on the day. We have compiled this list of tips to help you aid anyone who is looking for an accessible way to cast their vote in the federal election.
Checking enrolment status and where a person is enrolled to vote
The first step that someone may need help with is ensuring that they are enrolled to vote. While checking someone’s enrolment status, you will want to also find where the person is enrolled to vote, this is important as it will determine the location, they will be voting in person. There are multiple ways to check this information, you can –
- Head to aec.gov.au/check and follow the steps
- Call the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 13 23 26
- Visit an AEC office, and they can check for you.
Once you have identified that the person is enrolled to vote, you will need to figure out how they will cast their vote. There are multiple ways someone can cast their vote in the federal election.
Postal Vote – Accessible voting
Casting a vote through the mail is a valid, acceptable, and accessible way to vote for people who may be unable to attend on the set voting day. For someone to cast their vote via the post, the individual will need to complete a postal vote application form. Our support worker will be able to help someone fill out the application form online or on paper. To fill out an online application form, you can head to www.aec.gov.au/pva assisting and answer the questions with the person to send their postal vote application form.
To fill out a postal vote application on paper, our support worker can head to any AEC office or call 13 23 26 and request a form be delivered. Once the papers have been collected/delivered, the support worker can help fill out the form and return it either via mail, drop it at the AEC offices, or scan and upload it to the AEC website.
Once the application has been approved, the AEC will send the ballot papers to the person in the mail. Before the person can vote, they will need a witness. The witness needs to be someone on the electoral roll. They will ensure you the ballot papers have been completed by yourself.
They can help you through the process of voting, sign your envelope when you have voted, and date the envelope when you voted. We will cover how to fill out the ballot papers correctly later. Once the vote has been completed and sealed in the envelope, it will need to be dropped at a mailbox to ensure the vote has been sent off. Once this is done, the vote has been cast.
For each election, a new application will need to be submitted.
If someone feels that they wish to practise voting, you can help your participants run them through the voting practise on www.aec.gov.au/practice . This practise does not count as an actual vote but, can help someone understand the process of voting.
Pre-polling or voting interstate
Pre-polling is a form of voting that allows people to vote before election day if they are unable to cast their vote on election day. Anyone can cast their vote at a pre-polling site in their state. A support worker can help with getting an individual to a pre-polling site and help them navigate the experience from signing in, filling out their papers, and ensuring their vote is cast correctly. Our support workers can also help find where these pre-polling sites are and how to get there. You do not need to register to pre-poll you can just go to a pre-polling site and cast your vote.
Similarly, to pre-polling, if you are interstate, you are still able to cast your vote at a voting centre. Our support workers will also be able to help this process in finding the centre, getting through the voting process, and ensuring your vote has been cast correctly.
If you need any help with pre-polling or interstate voting, head to www.aec.gov.au or call 13 23 26.
Both pre-polling and voting interstate, have the same process as voting on election day which will be covered next, and we will cover how to complete the ballot papers correctly.
Voting on election day
The experience of heading into a polling place on these days can be overwhelming for anyone. If an individual with a disability is going to vote on this day, their support workers can help them in many ways through the process.
Upon arrival, there will be many people at the polling place who may be trying to talk to you. Firstly, it is important to distinguish between voters and people who support candidates. Voters are other people wishing to cast their vote. People supporting candidates will be trying to tell you how you should vote. A support worker will help individuals navigate the crowds to ensure they are headed in the right direction and aren’t overwhelmed.
Once an individual has entered the polling building, finding election staff (often in purple vests with “AEC Staff” on it) is the next step to your voting process. Once the individual has received their ballot papers, they will cast their vote (which we will cover in the next section). The election staff and support worker can assist during this process.
It can be helpful to let someone practise before they go in to vote officially so they are aware of what to expect on the day. Head over to www.aec.gov.au/practise to have a chance to practise and understand how to cast a vote correctly.
Understanding the ballot papers
When you are at the polling place, you will be given two pieces of paper. The two pieces of paper will be green and white, and both need to be filled out correctly for your vote to be cast.
On the day, if there is any confusion on how to fill out the ballot paper correctly, the AEC staff will be happy to help explain how they each need to be filled out. More info can be found at https://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_Vote/
Once the voting slips are filled out, the vote will need to put in the corresponding labelled box at the exit.
If assistance is still needed with the voting process, our support workers can help them fill out their vote. They will keep their vote a secret and will not try to persuade their vote. They will also be able to help if a mistake has been made and make sure the votes are submitted correctly.
Remember, it can be helpful for someone to practise voting before going to do it. Anyone can practise how to vote at the AEC website on www.aec.gov.au/practise
Concluding thoughts for Accessible voting options
Voting can be an overwhelming but fulfilling experience, with every Australian having the chance to have their say who will lead the country. Helping someone with a disability cast their vote can range from assisting them fill out their ballot paper to completing a postal application form to helping them enter the polling place.
Most importantly, it is to assist in allowing the person with the disability to have their say in who will lead. It is always important to have a conversation with the participant to see if they intend on voting. The team at Healthcare Australia can help at any stage through the voting process and will work confidentially to ensure the vote is safe and only with the person who it is for.
If you are looking for some more guides to how to assist someone with their votes, head to the AEC for more info on www.aec.gov.au
Below are some extra guides to help people with disabilities cast their votes-