Water Week

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Labor cries foul on Govt’s electoral enrolment changes: even after AEC’s campaign at least 100,000 people will not be enrolled and will lose their vote

Posted by waterweek on 20 September 2007

The Review of certain aspects of the administration of the Australian Electoral Commission report made some reasonable and not very controversial recommendations about the administration of the AEC, ALP MP Michael Danby told Federal Parliament on 17 September 2007. He said he was sure that an incoming government would give them due consideration but that the early close of enrolment period was opposed by Labor. Save the tally room! “Historically, I too think it would be a pity to abolish the national tally room. As the member for Indi indicated, the presentation of this report gives me an opportunity to discuss electoral matters, presumably for the last time in this parliament since it is obvious that we are about to embark on an election campaign”.

Govt rule change cuts off vote rego on election-call day: “As the election approaches, both the Australia Electoral Commission and the Australian Labor Party have launched advertisements urging people to enrol to vote. The AEC always runs such campaigns before elections, but this time the message is more urgent because of the changes made last year to the Electoral Act by the Howard government. These changes abolished the traditional five-day period of grace for eligible Australians to enrol when an election is called. For first-time voters the rolls will now close as soon as the writs for the election are issued”.

ALP: “electoral fraud” not the real reason for Govt change: “Labor opposed this change, which we argued was a step backwards for our democracy. We argued that in a country with compulsory voting it is undemocratic to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of people’s ability to enrol and vote. We estimate that even after the AEC’s campaign at least 100,000 people—mostly first-time voters—will not be enrolled and will lose their vote because of this change. That is about 800 to 900 per seat. For the 2004 election, 136,000 people used the five-day period to enrol. The government argues that this had to be stopped to prevent electoral fraud, but during the long parliamentary inquiry into the changes it produced no evidence to back up this claim”.

Reference: Michael Danby, Member for Melbourne Ports, Australian Labor Party, House of Representatives, Commonwealth, 17 September 2007

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