WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FORGET TO VOTE THIS SATURDAY?

Posted by janelle.tarabay on 15 May 2019

The Federal Election coming up this Saturday, 18 May. There are a number of ways that you can vote including attending a polling place on the day, pre-polling, via postal vote, a provisional vote or even an absent vote. If, however, you forget to vote on the day, you may be issued with a penalty notice. The fine is $210.

Failing to vote at an election is an offence under section 245(15) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. If your name is registered on the electoral roll, you must have a ‘valid and sufficient’ reason for not voting. 

The High Court in Judd v McKeon has found that a ‘valid and sufficient’ reason may include ‘physical obstruction’ whereby sickness, outside prevention, natural events or accidents have prevented you from attending a polling place. Even then, this will be assessed based on the circumstances of each case. 

Interestingly, the High Court also stated that if a person fails to vote because they do not have a preference for any of the parties, that would not be a valid or sufficient reason. 

In the case that you also fail to pay the penalty notice and do not have any valid or sufficient reasons for not voting, you may be prosecuted in the Local Court. You may then be convicted for an offence, fined and required to pay court costs.