The right to vote is one of the privileges of living in a democracy—you get a say in who runs your country.
In Australia, enrolling and voting is compulsory by law. More importantly, it is your chance to choose who represents you in the federal parliament.
When you enrol to vote, your name and address is added to the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, the list of voters entitled to vote in an election.
You must enrol and vote if you're an Australian citizen aged 18 or older.
You can enrol if you're 17. That way, you'll be on the electoral roll and able to vote when you turn 18.
The electoral roll closes shortly after an election has been called and if you're not on it, you can't vote. There are different deadlines for federal, state/territory and local government elections. So you should enrol, and stay enrolled, to make sure you don't miss out.
Just fill out an enrolment form and you will be added to the electoral roll.
This form will enrol you for federal, state/territory and most local government elections.
In a few weeks, you'll receive a letter confirming your enrolment.
Every time you change your address—moving across the street or across the country—or change your name, you need to fill out a new enrolment form. This will enrol you at your new location or update your name and remove your old details in one easy step.
If you don't update your details, your name could be removed from the electoral roll which means you lose your chance to vote.
It is not compulsory to enrol or vote if you are outside Australia however if you are going overseas for either a holiday or a longer period of time, you must let the AEC know. If you don't, you run the risk of having your name taken off the roll.
You can apply to register as a silent elector if you fear that publication of your address on the electoral roll would put the safety of you or your family at risk.
Federal election day is always on a Saturday. Voting takes place between 8am and 6pm at polling places around the country. Where you will be on election day determines how you can vote.
If you are in your local area you can vote at any polling place in your electorate. The locations are advertised on the AEC website and in major newspapers the Friday before election day.
If you are in your home state or territory but outside your electorate, you can vote at any polling place. This is called an absent vote.
If you will be in another state or territory you can only vote at special interstate voting centres. Locations will be advertised at the time of the election. Alternatively, you could cast an early vote before you leave home or you can apply for ballot papers to be sent to you.
If you are not able to vote on election day you may be eligible to vote at an early voting centre or to apply for a postal vote. Remember, if you do apply for a postal vote, ballot papers can't be sent to you until the candidates for the election are finalised.
For federal elections you will usually receive two ballot papers. A green one for the House of Representatives and a white one for the Senate.
On the green ballot paper you need to number every box in order of your preference.
On the white ballot paper you can choose one of two ways to vote. You can put a number '1' in a box above the black line for the party or group of your choice, or you can fill in every box below the black line in order of your preference.
If you don't complete the ballot papers correctly your vote won't be counted.
You can practise voting on the voting practice tool.
You are voting to elect people to represent you in the Australian federal parliament in Canberra.
Parliament is at the centre of government, making decisions and passing laws on issues that affect us all.
At a federal election you elect members to represent you in the two houses that make up the federal parliament—the House of Representatives and the Senate.
For the House of Representatives, Australia is divided into 150 areas called electorates. You vote for one member of parliament to represent your electorate.
For the Senate, each state has 12 senators and the territories (NT and ACT) each have two. You vote for senators to represent your whole state or territory.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) conducts federal elections and referendums, maintains the electoral roll and provides a range of electoral information and education programs.
The AEC also offers an interpreter service for people who wish to communicate with the AEC via an interpreter
Authorised by Gail Urbanski, West Block Offices, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600.