How To Enrol

This series is going to cover enrolment, the physical or verbal act of voting, how to do it, and how to avoid being fined if you can’t.

ARE YOU ENROLED?
You can check how you’re currently enroled here This can be a pain - if you’re sure you’re enroled, check different addresses you’ve had, different names, potential misspellings. If you can’t find yourself on there, you’ll need to contact the AEC.

DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE YOUR ENROLMENT?
Have you changed your name? (Congrats!) Have you moved? Are you no longer housed? Were you previously a general elector, but now you need to have your address suppressed?

You can change your address here- you have to have been living wherever you’ve moved to for at least one month to do this.

You can change your name (congrats!) here.

If your electoral category has changed, you’ll need to submit one of the forms linked above.

ENROLING FOR THE FIRST TIME

First you need to know if you’re eligible to enrol, so this is what it says on the website:

You’re eligible to vote if:

  • you are an Australian citizen, or eligible British subject

  • aged 18 years and over, and

  • have lived at your address for at least one month.

This sounds like if you’re homeless, without a fixed address, or incarcerated, you can’t vote, but that’s not actually true!

These are also just the conditions for people currently in Australia - it’s a little more complicated if you’re overseas.

If you’re overseas, you’re eligible to vote if you are an Australian citizen or eligible British subject and if:

  • you’re overseas for a short time and plan to return to your address in Australia

  • you’re living overseas but plan to return to Australia within six years.

    • if you haven’t yet enroled, you’re still eligible to do so as long as you have lived overseas for less than three years, and plan to return within six years of the date of your departure.

  • you’ve just turned 18, you live overseas, and you intend to return to Australia within six years of your 18th birthday.

You are not eligible if you live overseas and do not plan to return to Australia.

TIME TO ENROL
You have to enrol to vote yourself. You can enrol either online or by form - it depends on your enrolment category.

ENROLMENT CATEGORIES

  • General (this is most people, the ‘special’ enrolment options do not apply to you)

and ‘Special’, with the following subcategories:

  • Silent elector (you need to keep your address private)

  • No fixed address (eg. you’re homeless, or a seasonal worker or traveller with no address to return to)

  • Overseas elector (you’re living or working overseas and plan to return within six years)

  • Physically incapable of signing your name (you physically cannot sign your name)

  • Prisoners (if you’re incarcerated and serving a term of less than three years)

  • Antarctic electors (you are working in Antarctica - if that’s you, that’s cool as fuck)

So if you’re a general voter, it is the easiest for you. You can enrol online, or with a physical form which can be downloaded online, or picked up for free at a federal or state electoral office, or post office. You can also contact the AEC and ask them to send you one. When you fill out the form you'll need to have your driver’s license or your passport or have someone who's already enroled who'll confirm your identity. It’s a pretty short form and once you’ve enroled you won’t have to do it again.

If you’re a general voter that’s it! If you’re part of one of the other groups we listed you can skip to the section that’s relevant to you by searching for your category name.

Contacting the AEC
If you have any questions about enroling or you need a copy of any forms you can contact the AEC directly. Details of where the AEC and VEC offices are, and the contact details for them can be found here.

There are also a few options for contacting the AEC if you’re d/Deaf, HoH, or have a “speech impairment”.

  • 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.

If you’re any of the ‘special’ subcategories, you have to submit a specific form.

On returning forms - this link lets you upload scanned documents. You can also return a form in person at any AEC office. You can also post them to the AEC - you don’t need to use a stamp if you post it in Australia. You can also, and yes I cannot believe I’m saying this in 2019, fax it to them. This will cost at somewhere like a post office, but is free at some local library.

Also, I link to forms below, but all of the forms are available not just online, but directly from the AEC itself, whether that be in person or by phone (and then they post it to you).

SILENT
To apply as a silent elector, you have to obtain and fill out the form for your relevant state (Victoria’s is here), and then return it to the AEC. If you are not already enroled, you’ll need to enrol as a general elector (see the last section) either before or at the same time as you submit your silent elector form.

NO FIXED ADDRESS
So people in this category are specifically defined as either:

  • itinerant – that is, living somewhere temporarily but do not have a place you intend to return to live, or

  • homeless with no access to safe and secure housing, or

  • homeless and living in crisis or transitional accommodation.

You’ll need to enrol under one of the following four categories:

  • the address where you were last eligible to enrol, or

  • the address where your next of kin (closest living blood relative, presumably of your choice) is enroled, or

  • in the division (also known as an electorate) where you were born, or

  • in the division for which you are most closely connected (for those born outside Australia).


To apply as a no fixed address elector, you have to obtain and fill out the form for your relevant state (Victoria’s is here), and then return it to the AEC. If you are enroled as a person with no fixed address, it is not compulsory for you to vote and you will not be fined. If you’re in this category and not already enroled, it is not compulsory for you to enrol.

OVERSEAS ELECTOR
So for overseas electors, the enrolment process is slightly different depending on which type you are.

  • If you’re overseas for a short time and plan to return to your address in Australia (short is undefined here), you need to complete this form.

  • If you’re living overseas but plan to return to Australia within six years, that’s this form.

    • If you haven’t yet enroled, you’re still eligible to do so as long as you have lived overseas for less than three years, and plan to return within six years of the date of your departure. That’s this form!

  • If you’ve just turned 18, you live overseas, and you intend to return to Australia within six years of your 18th birthday - that’s this form.

PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE OF SIGNING YOUR NAME
To register as being physically incapable of signing your name, you’ll need a registered medical practitioner to complete and sign the medical certificate on the relevant form - Victoria’s is here. If you can’t complete the rest of the form yourself, you don’t have anyone to scribe for you, and your medical practitioner for some reason won’t do it, I would recommend going to an AEC office and asking someone there to help you.

PRISONERS

If you’re serving a prison sentence of less than three years you can vote in federal elections. In Victoria, if you’re serving a prison sentence of less than five years you can vote in state elections. Otherwise, you will remain enroled, but cannot vote. That’s fucked up!

For federal elections, you’ll need to enrol under one of the four following categories, in order of their preference:

  • the address where you were last eligible to enrol, or

  • the address where your next of kin (closest living blood relative, presumably of your choice) is enroled, or

  • in the division (also known as an electorate) where you were born, or

  • in the division for which you are most closely connected (for those born outside Australia).

For state elections in Victoria, you can only enrol under the address where you were living at the time of your conviction.

The relevant form for Victoria is here.

ANTARCTIC ELECTORS

For these purposes, Antarctica apparently includes the Australian Antarctic Territory, the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, Macquarie Island and in some cases, ships in transit.

If this is you (cool!! as!!! heck!!!) you need to fill out this form, which requires you to have on hand your prior enroled address and the dates you expect to reside in ‘Antarctica’. If you’ll be here, but haven’t yet enroled to vote, you need to complete a regular enrolment form and include that with the other one when you send it in.

This lets you vote in all federal elections and referendums, but only some state elections. Does it say which? Of course not!


VOTING INFORMATION IN EASY ENGLISH AND LANGUAGES OTHER THAN ENGLISH
For voting information in other languages, go here!

Written information is available in Arabic, Assyrian, Bosnian, Burmese, “Chinese”, Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, Filipino, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Macedonian, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

There are specific phone numbers listed for telephone interpreter services  in Arabic, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Macedonian, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. If you need an interpreter for another language call the number at the end of the list.

There are three easy English guides. One on how to enrol (PDF and Word), one on how to vote at a polling place (PDF and Word), and one on how to vote by post (PDF and Word).

There’s also an Auslan guide to enroling and voting here.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this guide, which will cover accessibility, types of voting, and how to avoid being fined if you can’t make it to a polling place on election day.