Beware of Postal Vote Application Forms from Political Parties and Candidates

In the lead up to elections, you have probably received one or more official-looking letters from political candidates containing a postal vote application form, especially if you live in a marginal seat electorate. In addition to the usual pre-election promises, these letters tell you that you have a right to vote by post. All you need to do is to fill the form with your personal details and return it in the included reply-paid envelope.

Sounds easy and convenient, but please don't rush and first have a closer look at the return envelope. Does it have the address of the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC)? Most likely — not. These envelopes are usually addressed to your MP, a political party candidate, or even some mysterious “Postal Vote Centre” or “Returning Officer” PO Box XXX to avoid mentioning any names or parties thus risking to raise the voter's suspicion. Unfortunately, such practice of political parties dispatching these letters and then receiving postal vote applications may be sneaky, but is not illegal. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 permits political parties and candidates to distribute their own versions of postal vote application forms. However, this practice can undermine and manipulate fair election in Australia, and, in order to maintain independent voting in a truly democratic country, it should not be permitted.

How to Vote by Post Safely and Democratically:

If you do need to vote by post, always send your postal vote application directly to the AEC. The AEC's address for postal forms is:

Australian Electoral Commission
Reply Paid 9867
[Your capital city]

(No stamp is needed if posted in Australia)

Check the address on AEC website, just to be sure. Sending your forms to any other address may enable political self-interests to override democracy, and even lead to misuse of your personal data.

If it better and safer to vote on election day at your local polling place. If you are unable to get to the polling place on election day, you can take advantage of the early vote option where you can vote in person at an early voting centre or any AEC divisional office in the weeks leading to an election. This will ensure that your personal information is safe and your voting right is not abused. Check the AEC website for voting options.

Mass Mail-Out of Postal Vote Applications by Political Parties can be Unfair and Dangerous

Postal voting is an important option for those who are truly unable to reach a polling booth on election day, but it should be run by the independent Australian Electoral Commission, not by political parties who seek and use every advantage they can.

How You Can Help to Stop the Unsolicited Postal Vote Application Forms

If enough people become aware of the problem and stay vigilant, the spam-like, unsolicited postal vote application political trickery can be thwarted very easily:

If nobody sends their filled forms to the parties, they will stop this practice of invasion of people's privacy, wasting taxpayer money and undermining the democracy under the guise of “service to electors”.