Ready to vote? Things to consider when you have a disability
Picture source: www.aec.gov.au
The big event that rolls around every three years is only a week away. We’re talking, of course, about the 2022 federal election, where Australians vote on who should become our next Prime Minister.
All Australians over the age of 18 are expected to vote in federal elections. By now, you should have enrolled to vote – which ensures your name and details are on the electoral roll (you can check your enrolment details here). With that job done, you can now think about the best way to cast your vote on or before May 21, 2022.
Let’s take a look at your options for voting in this year’s federal election if you have a disability.
Voting on election day
On election day, polling venues around Australia will be open from 8am to 6pm. Some venues are more accessible than others – you can find your local polling venues and check their accessibility rating before you go.
Every polling place should have staff who are trained to help people with a disability to vote. Or, if you would prefer, you can also nominate a friend or relative to help you instead (as long as they’re not a candidate in the election).
Arriving at a polling venue can feel overwhelming. There will be a lot of people milling about outside, handing out ‘How to vote’ flyers for their political parties. It’s up to you whether you take these flyers or not – you don’t have to follow their suggestions on who to vote for.
Once inside the polling venue, your first job is to get your name crossed off the electoral roll. You’ll be given two ballot papers. The small green ballot paper is for the House of Representatives, and the large white one is for the Senate. To make your vote count, it’s important to fill in the ballot paper properly – there will be instructions on each piece of paper.
If you need help reading the ballot papers or filling them in, you can ask for help. And don’t worry if you make a mistake – you can ask for another ballot paper.
Voting before election day
If you would prefer to avoid the crowds and potential queues on election day, you can go to an early polling place to cast your vote.
To find one near you, visit this Australian Electoral Commission site and fill in their simple form. You can then check out their opening hours and accessibility information to see if it’s right for you.
If you can’t travel to a polling place, you can apply for a postal vote. In fact, you might be eligible to apply for general postal voting rights – which means you get ballot papers in the mail every federal election.
Depending on your disability, there are also other options available for some people to cast a vote. For example, if you are blind or have low vision, then you can vote over the phone – just make sure you register first.
If you’re still unsure about what to expect or how to vote this federal election, you can call the Australian Electoral Commission on 13 23 26 or explore their helpful guides for people with a disability.