Voting is compulsory for all Australian citizens over the age of 18, and with a federal election just around the corner, it can be a stressful time for those who may have concerns or need assistance.
The voting process can be confusing for everybody and making sure you are filling out the form correctly and ticking the right number of boxes can cause distress for our older citizens, but the Australian Electoral Commission has plenty of support services in place to ensure that everyone has their say.
Here’s a quick rundown of what tools and resources are available to assist this election day.
Registering as a postal voter
Getting to a voting booth on polling day can be difficult for older people for several reasons including illness, mobility issues or disability.
The postal voting method can take out some of the difficulty of travelling to a polling booth.
Eligible reasons for being a postal voter include:
- Voter is a patient in a hospital or nursing home who cannot travel to a polling booth
- Voter is unable to get to a polling booth due to medical reasons (including aging).
You can apply to be a postal voter through the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) website where you will be given a link to download a PDF form, which you will need to fill in, scan, and upload the completed document to the AEC.
If you don’t have access to a computer, you can pick up a form from your local AEC office or post office. You can send this form back by faxing the form to your local AEC office, mailing it to your local AEC office, or be provided in person to your local AEC office. To find an AEC office near you, visit the website.
When registration is completed, your ballot papers will be sent to you in the mail. Once you have registered as a postal voter you won’t need to re-apply for future elections.
When you receive your ballot papers, you may ask someone else to help you complete them and then return them to the AEC.
Some people who are living, or staying, in either a hospital or nursing home during election time may be able to vote early in the lead up to the state election through mobile polling booths.
These booths visit facilities to allow the residents to lodge their vote. Keep in mind that this year due to high Covid-19 risk, the mobile voting teams will not be able to visit all aged care facilities or any hospitals, so if you have relied on this method in the past speak to the staff at the aged care facility to determine if this is going to be an option this year. The AEC have teams in regular contact with relevant facilities to provide support.
If the mobile voting booth won’t be visiting their facility, and they are able to, older Australians can visit a polling booth before election day.
A list of polling places is now available. Each polling place has an accessibility rating to assist people with disabilities or mobility restrictions.
Early voting commenced 9 May 2022
Assistance to vote at a polling place
If you or your loved one needs assistance to vote at a polling place, you can nominate a friend, relative or another person (other than an electoral candidate) to help you. If assistance is being provided by a person nominated by you, you and that person can enter an unoccupied polling booth together. The assistant helps to complete, fold and deposit the ballot paper in the ballot box
Polling place staff are trained to assist so If you do not nominate someone, then the polling official in charge may provide assistance if they are satisfied that you are unable to vote without help.
There is no provision for proxy voting in federal elections in Australia, so even if you have a Power of Attorney in place, a Power of attorney is not permitted to vote on behalf of an elector
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Those who are blind or vision impaired can use the AEC’s telephone voting system to cast their vote.
- To register, call 1800 913 993
- Answer questions to check the details on the electoral roll
- choose a PIN.
You will then receive a telephone voting registration number by your choice of an email, SMS, phone call or mail.
Citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing, can utilise the National Relay Service to assist with contacting the AEC.
How to contact the AEC if you are deaf or hard of hearing
- National Relay Service (NRS)
- TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 13 23 26
- Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 23 26
- Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 13 23 26.
People living with dementia
People in the early stages of dementia, who are still capable of understanding, may be able to continue to vote. You should speak with the person and with their doctor to determine if they maintain the capacity to understand the voting process.
If your loved one has more advanced dementia and they are no longer capable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting, you will need to remove their name from the electoral roll by completing the Objection claim that an elector should not be enrolled form and returning it to the AEC. The medical certificate on the form must be completed and signed by a registered medical practitioner.
The 2022 Australian federal election will be held on 21 May 2022
Early Voting commences 9 May 2022
Close of postal Vote Applications 18 May 2022
For full information visit https://aec.gov.au/election/
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To take this first step in your aged care journey, please give us a call on 1300 775 870 or fill out this form and we will get in touch with you.