Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 3 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1162..
a candidate's deposit to the person who paid it, or to a person authorised by the person who paid it; providing that the certified list of electors used in polling places contains the year of birth and gender of each elector to assist in correctly identifying electors as they vote and providing that the extract of the certified list of electors provided to candidates will not contain the year of birth and gender of electors in order to protect their privacy; allowing the Electoral Commission to provide the extract of the certified list of electors to candidates in electronic form; removing the requirement for a person to sign as witness when a voter is casting a postal vote; and providing flexibility to the Electoral Commissioner as to where the word "declaration"is to be printed in relation to the words "ballot paper"on declaration ballot papers.
Another amendment arises from changes made in 2010 to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. This amendment will lower the age of entitlement to provisionally enrol to vote from 17 years old to 16 years old to bring the ACT into line with the commonwealth. The requirement that an elector must be 18 years old or over before they can vote will not be affected.
Four amendments suggested by the Electoral Commission after the 2008 election are not being supported by the government and are therefore not proposed for this bill. These include allowing any voter to pre-poll vote without the need to declare that they are not able to attend a polling place on polling day; changing the authorisation requirements for double-sided stickers; removing the offence for defamation of candidates, which has not been supported by the Assembly previously; and increasing the penalty for non-voting.
The government considers that the current requirement for voters to attend to vote on polling day should continue, with the facility for pre-poll voting being available only for those who cannot attend a polling place. Further, the government considers that the current authorisation requirements are sufficient to ensure readers are aware of the authors of political advertising. The government does not support the repeal of the provisions regarding defamation of candidates, as this proposal was considered and rejected by the previous Legislative Assembly. The government does not support raising the penalty for failure to vote. The current penalty of $20 remains the penalty for failure to vote at commonwealth elections and an increase does not appear to be justified.
One recommendation of the Electoral Commission's 2008 election report relates to improving the processes for filling casual vacancies in the Assembly. This recommendation is being supported by the government and is dealt with in a separate bill, which I have just tabled. This bill also makes minor consequential amendments to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body Act 2008, which applies various provisions of the Electoral Act to the conduct of elections for the elected body.
In its report on the conduct of the 2008 election, the Electoral Commission also suggested that consideration be given to tasking an Assembly committee with a brief to consider and report on the conduct of each Assembly general election, and other relevant electoral matters. In the spirit of this suggestion, and as I have foreshadowed in relation to the Electoral (Casual Vacancies) Amendment Bill 2011, the government will seek to refer this bill also to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community