Australian Electoral Commission

Make sure you count: a guide to enrolling and voting

Updated: 14 March 2014

In Australia, the right to vote in elections is one of the privileges of living in a democracy: you have a say in who will represent you at federal, state/territory and local levels of government.

Australian citizens also vote in referendums to approve or reject proposed amendments to the Australian Constitution: the set of basic rules our country is governed by. The Constitution can only be amended by this process.

All Australian citizens 18 and over are required by law to enrol and vote.

How do we help?

The AEC is responsible for maintaining the Commonwealth electoral roll and conducting federal elections, by-elections and referendums.

Enrolment

Before you can vote, you need to make sure your name is on the electoral roll: this is the list of all eligible citizens who are registered to vote in Australian elections and referendums.

Can I enrol to vote?

You are required by law to enrol if you:

  • are 18 years of age or older
  • are an Australian citizen, and
  • have lived at your current address for at least a month.

If you are 16 or 17, you can enrol now so when you turn 18 you’ll be ready to vote.

How do I enrol to vote?

You can enrol online – it's quick and easy to do.

You can also visit any electoral office, Australia Post outlet, Australian Taxation Office shopfront, Centrelink or Medicare service centre for an enrolment form.

After you have enrolled, the AEC will add your name to the electoral roll and send you confirmation of your new enrolment details.

What am I enrolling for?

You are enrolling to vote in federal, state/territory and local government elections and referendums.

I’m not sure if I’m enrolled.

You can check your enrolment online, or contact us.

If I change my address/name what do I do?

Every time you move, or change your name, you need to update your enrolment with your new details. It's easy: just change your details online.

If you don't, your name could be removed from the electoral roll and you could miss out on your vote in upcoming elections.

If I go overseas what should I do?

If you go overseas to work or live you need to let the AEC know. If you don't, your name may be taken off the electoral roll.

Can I wait until the election to enrol?

Federal, state/territory and local government elections are held on different dates so it's important you are enrolled and you keep your enrolment details up to date so you can vote.

Voting

A federal election is held at least once every three years and election day is always on a Saturday. When and where you vote depends on where you will be on election day.

Before election day

If you will be away or unable to get to a polling place on election day, you can vote early in person or by post.

  • Early voting centres are open in the weeks leading up to election day. The locations and opening times will be available on the AEC website.
  • To vote by post you must first apply online or pick up an application from any Australia Post outlet or AEC office. The AEC will mail out your postal voting pack after the candidates for the election have been finalised.

On election day

You can vote at any polling place in your home state or territory. Polling places open at 8am and close at 6pm sharp.

If you are in another state or territory on election day, and you haven't voted early, you will need to vote at an interstate voting centre.

A list of polling places and interstate voting centres will be made available on the AEC website.

Making your vote count

At a federal election, you are voting to elect people to represent you in the two houses of the Australian Parliament: the House of Representatives and the Senate. You will receive two ballot papers –

  • a green one to vote for a representative of your local area (or electorate) in the House of Representatives, and
  • a white one to vote for a representative of your state or territory in the Senate.
Ballot papers

Instructions on how to vote are printed on the ballot papers. If you make a mistake or you are unsure what to do just ask a polling official for help.

When voting finishes at 6pm the AEC starts counting the votes. Official updates and results will be made available on the AEC website.