Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1708 ..
informal vote, or to fail to comply with all the technicalities, for a range of obvious reasons; there may be deficiencies in our electoral education, and that is certainly an area where the Greens would like to see Elections ACT, the Assembly and the ACT’s education systems invest more time and attention. But none of these are sufficient reasons to discourage others from making a postal vote. Again, it seems, rather, that there is a bureaucratic advantage in minimising postal votes. The Greens do not accept that such advantage justifies this measure, which actively discourages people from applying to make a postal vote.
I have witnessed that some people have an almost pathological aversion to having to face the prospect of another person offering them a how-to-vote card. Some people have an aversion to going into the cities, town centres and those places where they have to vote. For these people, a postal vote gives them a means of escaping this personal interface with the democratic process. We might think there is something odd about these people—that they are not well, as Ms Porter says—but they exist and they have the right to have a choice to do a postal vote.
While I personally think that running the how-to-vote card gauntlet is at worst a pifflingly minor inconvenience, I do have sympathy for people who find it extremely stressful. A postal vote gives them the option to vote without dangerously elevating their stress levels. And, whether we like it or not, we do have a system in which it is compulsory for people to vote and we do have people who do not vote accurately in all our forums. It is not a crime. It would be great if they knew how to vote properly and all their votes were formal, but making it harder to get a postal vote will not deal with that problem.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.31): The government does not support Dr Foskey’s amendment. It would retain the existing grounds for applying for a postal vote, removing the change in the bill that would remove the right to a postal vote from those who are able to attend a pre-poll voting centre.
Presently, to be eligible to apply for a postal vote an elector must declare that he or she expects to be unable to attend at a polling place on polling day. An elector with silent enrolment is also automatically entitled to apply for a postal vote so that he or she does not have to declare his or her identity in public. An elector is also entitled to cast a pre-poll vote at a pre-poll voting centre in the ACT or interstate on the same grounds.
As the elector simply has to declare that he or she is unable to vote at a polling place on polling day, an elector is entitled to apply for a postal vote even where the person is able to attend a pre-poll voting centre, which is effectively a polling place. Pre-poll voting centres are provided in the ACT for the three weeks leading up to polling day. Typically, they are located in central locations in the main town centres. At the next election, pre-poll voting centres will be located at Belconnen, Civic, Gungahlin, Woden and Tuggeranong. The Electoral Commission intends to provide electronic voting at all of these pre-poll centres.
A person applying for a postal vote is the most likely of all categories of voters to have his or her vote not counted, and this is the driving reason for this change. Postal