Working as a polling official

Updated: 27 October 2016

Looking for information about working at a state or territory election?

State and territory elections are conducted by relevant state or territory electoral commissions. Select a link below for information about election employment opportunities in your area:

The AEC employs around 80 000 Australians to work as polling officials for federal electoral events, including federal elections, plebiscites and referendums. The majority of polling officials work on election day only, but there are also opportunities to work throughout an election period, including roles in pre-poll centres and remote polling.

Elections are a fundamental part of our democratic process in Australia and the AEC is focused on delivering trusted, reliable, high quality, high integrity federal elections and electoral events.

To be considered for employment as part of our temporary election workforce you need to submit a registration of interest (ROI). You can submit an ROI at any time, and the AEC will keep it on file and contact you if we require temporary staff in your nominated locations in the lead up to a federal electoral event.

Applying for temporary employment with the AEC is easy, and is managed through an online system called 'AEC Employment'. Once you've reviewed the information below about working with the AEC please click on this button to apply:

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Frequently asked questions

What's it like working on an election?

To get a sense of what it's like working on election day, please check out the video and information on our 'What to Expect on election day' page.

Which temporary positions are available?

Temporary positions
Role General description
Declaration Vote Issuing Officer / Inquiry Officer Issuing and Inquiry Officers are responsible for supporting absentee and provisional voters by completing declaration vote certificates, and documentation which tracks the issued materials.
Early Voting Liaison Officer Early Voting Liaison Officers are a senior position responsible for acting as a representative of the Divisional Returning Officer. They provide assurance that policies and procedures are being adhered to, assist the Officer in Charge and manage emerging complex problems.
Electoral Visitor Electoral Visitors work as part of a small team to deliver voter services to identified institutions (locations such as nursing homes and hospitals). Duties include the management and security of materials such as ballot papers.
Electoral Visitor in Charge Electoral Visitors in Charge act as representatives for the Divisional Returning Officer. They are responsible for supervising a mobile team that delivers voter services to identified institutions, oversee the management and security of materials, liaise with voters and party workers, and undertake scrutiny management and return of materials.
Officer in Charge (OIC) / Second in Charge (2IC) OICs and 2ICs are leadership positions with responsibility for managing a polling place, which includes the preparation and set up of the polling place, supervision of staff, management and security of materials, liaison with voters and party workers, scrutiny management and return of materials.
Polling Assistant Polling Assistants are one of the most common polling official positions during an election, and are generally asked to rotate through a range of tasks such as issuing ballot material, guarding ballot boxes, queue management and scrutiny.
Polling Place Liaison Officer Polling Place Liaison Officers are a senior position responsible for acting as a representative of the Divisional Returning Officer. They provide assurance that policies and procedures are being adhered to, assist the Officer in Charge and manage emerging complex problems. A PPLO will visit up to five polling places at varying times and will require the use of a private motor vehicle.
Pre-poll / Interstate Voting Centre Issuing Officer Issuing Officers issue ballot material in a pre-poll voting centre or interstate voting centre, as well as issuing both declaration and ordinary ballot material, guarding ballot boxes, queue management and scrutiny.
Remote Mobile Team Member Remote Mobile Team Members work as part of a small team to deliver voter services to remote areas including Indigenous communities, pastoral stations, outstations, roadhouses and mine sites. This can involve travel across large geographical areas using a range of forms of transport, and may require overnight stays.
Remote Mobile Team Leader / Remote 2IC These leadership positions are responsible for supervising a remote mobile team delivering voter services to remote areas including Indigenous communities, pastoral stations, out stations, roadhouses and mine sites. The role is responsible for the management and security of materials including ballot papers, liaison with voters and party workers, scrutiny management and return of materials in some locations.
Scrutiny Assistant Scrutiny Assistants typically work on polling night from 5:30pm to 9:30pm and help to ensure the timely completion of post-voting tasks and assist in unfolding ballot papers (however they are not permitted to assist with the count of the ballot papers).
Voter Information Officer Voter Information Officers are responsible for assisting electors in Indigenous communities, or communities with a large number of culturally and linguistically diverse people that have been identified as having high informal voting rates.

Can I choose when and where I work?

Yes. As part of the Registration of Interest process through AEC Employment you will be asked to nominate your preferred location and timing of employment (e.g. election day only or throughout the election period). As part of this process you can also nominate for a specific temporary position, but the AEC does not guarantee you will be offered your nominated position or location.

Am I guaranteed a position?

The AEC receives a high level of interest in temporary election work across most areas of Australia, and submitting an application (Registration of Interest) does not guarantee employment. To improve your chances of receiving an offer of employment, you may like to consider nominating more than one preferred work location during the Registration of Interest process.

When will I know if my application has been successful and which role I'll be offered?

The AEC runs an ongoing election recruiting process so there is no fixed date by which you'll know if your application is successful. The AEC sends employment offers to applicants via email progressively (in stages) in the lead up to election day.

For example, for the 2016 federal election (2 July 2016), the AEC commenced sending out employment offers for pre-poll positions in mid-May, and the majority of offers for work on election day were sent out by mid-June.

What hours are involved in temporary election work?

Most polling officials who are employed to work on election day are required to start around 7am, and finish when all required duties are complete in the polling place (including the counting of ballot papers after 6pm). Working as an election day polling official can be a mentally and physically demanding experience, and may involve working until 11pm.

For polling officials who are employed to work during the election period, the span of ordinary hours for work performed during the election period is 7am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. The length of the shift worked during these hours will vary depending, but is generally not longer than 7.5 hours (plus breaks).

As polling officials are employed on a casual basis, the AEC will offer employment as and when required by the AEC. The AEC does not guarantee a minimum or maximum number of hours or shifts throughout the course of your temporary employment.

If you are asked to work during the election period, the AEC guarantees you a minimum shift length of:

  • 1 hour for a day on which the employee is required to undertake training; or
  • 3 hours on any day where the employee is otherwise directed to perform duties.

How much will I be paid?

If you are employed to work on election day only, you will receive a set remuneration package according to your position that covers all hours you work on the day, allowances and any mandatory training that's required for your role.

If you are employed to work during the election period you will be paid at the hourly rate assigned to your position.

These hourly rates and remuneration packages are reviewed in the lead up to each federal electoral event, and once confirmed are set out in the Collective Determination made by the Electoral Commissioner under section 35(3) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.

To review the hourly rates and remuneration packages for the 2016 federal election please refer to pages 12 and 13 of the Collective Determination 2016/2. Please note this is provided for general information purposes only, and any or all of the terms and conditions may change for a future federal electoral event.

For advice on how payments for temporary election work may affect any government benefits you receive, please contact the Department of Human Services.

Will I have to pay tax on my earnings?

Yes. The exact amount of tax required to be paid for temporary employment with the AEC will depend on your individual financial circumstances.

Please note, should you wish to apply for the Senior Australians tax offset, you are required to complete a tax variation form in addition to your tax file number declaration form.

To get a sense of the amount of tax required by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) with and without a tax-free threshold, please refer to this table on the ATO website.

Will I receive a superannuation contribution?

A temporary employee is eligible for superannuation once earnings reach $450.00 within a calendar month. Superannuation is calculated on gross ordinary time earnings for that calendar month. Overtime and allowances are not included in superannuation calculations.

Superannuation funds are deposited with an APRA compliant nominated fund, quarterly.

The AEC will pay employer superannuation contributions equivalent to the Superannuation Guarantee Contribution rate (currently 9.5% of the employee's ordinary time earnings).

Do I have to be an Australian citizen to work for the AEC?

The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 does not specifically require applicants for temporary employment to be Australian citizens, however, some temporary election positions require the witnessing of documentation, and thus must be undertaken by enrolled electors over 18 years of age.

What are the rules about political neutrality while employed?

The AEC operates in a politically sensitive environment. Any person who is, or is seen to be active in political affairs, and intends to publicly carry on this activity, may compromise the strict political neutrality of the AEC. If you do not adhere to the standard of political neutrality your employment may be terminated.

What are the rules about using social media while employed?

The AEC Social Media Policy for temporary employees establishes guidance, procedures and protocols for temporary employees using social media.

Are there age limits to working with the AEC?

Under Section 203(4) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, no person under the age of 18 can be employed as a presiding officer, deputy presiding officer or assistant presiding officer. For all other roles the employment laws of the relevant state or territory apply.

In practice this means that temporary election workers who are under 18 may not issue ballot papers to electors in any capacity. However, they may sort ballot material should they be offered positions that perform these duties such as Scrutiny Assistant, or when undertaking other activities assigned to them by their supervisor.

There are no upper age limits to working with the AEC, and we proudly employ thousands of older Australians at each event.

Can I still work as a polling official if I've received a redundancy from the public service?

Yes.

Will I receive training?

All polling officials receive some form of training. Depending on your position, this will include one or more of the following:

  • home-based online training
  • group-based face to face training
  • a briefing from your supervisor upon commencement
  • a role-specific handbook
  • on the job training

Does the AEC offer assistance for Indigenous applicants?

The AEC is committed to creating a workforce that reflects the cultural diversity of the communities we serve, and to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage in electoral participation.

Staff from the AEC's Indigenous and Community Engagement Team are available to assist Indigenous applicants with information on available jobs, working conditions and preparing and submitting an application.

If you are interested in temporary election employment please contact the AEC's Indigenous and Community Engagement Team.