THE pending 2023 referendum should see more voting services delivered to remote communities than any other vote in the country’s history.
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said a key part of the AEC’s role in upholding Australia’s democratic traditions was to enable participation.
“We’ve announced record enrolment for all Australians ahead of the referendum, we expect a return to pre-pandemic service levels for overseas voting, there’ll be an increase in mobile polling in residential care settings and now we’ll be delivering a significant increase to our remote voter services as well,” Mr Rogers said.
“At this stage, our consultation and remote voting plans for the referendum are well progressed, and we’re confident we’ll be visiting approximately 35 per cent more remote communities this referendum than we have in the past, and spending at least 80 per cent more time in communities.
“We’re actively out in communities continuing to consult and communicate on how best to facilitate voting that is tailored to a community’s particular needs and circumstances.”
Mr Rogers said some factors were out of AEC’s control.
“There are many elements to consider – the referendum date when it’s known, impact of seasonal weather events, managing the complex delivery logistics common in remote and very remote Australia, and working around community events and cultural protocols,” he said.
Voting services in remote communities will start 19 days ahead of voting day, a week ahead of when early voting centres in other localities will open.
“We asked parliament for an additional week for remote voter services and the change was made – it provides for an expansion to our services and contingency in what is a very complex schedule,” Mr Rogers said.
“The first votes cast in the 2023 referendum will be cast from remote locations.”
The AEC’s remote voting service schedule can only be finalised once a date is known and locations will be released then.