Electoral communication

Eden-Monaro by-election: The NSW Department of Health has developed campaign guidance for political campaign staff and volunteers for this by-election. The provision of campaign advice from the Department of Health is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Format, frequency and truth

There is no limit in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) regarding the amount, the format or the timing of electoral communication.

The AEC also has no role in regulating the political content of electoral communications. A federal election is a contest of ideas and it is the role of each voter to take the time to consider if the information is:

Reliable

Is it from a reliable source?

Current

When was it published?

Safe

Could it be a scam?

Check the source – authorisation requirements

Anyone intending to communicate regarding an election or referendum must ensure the communication is appropriately authorised. The Electoral Act requires electoral communications to be authorised so people can know the source of the communication they are consuming.

Authorisation requirements apply to electoral communication made at any time and apply to modern communication channels and methods including online platforms, bulk text messages and robo-calls. The content of an authorisation statement varies according to who is communicating the electoral matter and the type of communication.

Campaigning at a polling booth

All campaign activities (e.g. erection of signage, positioning of campaign workers) must occur outside of six metres from the entrance to an early voting centre or polling place and must not obstruct a voter’s access to the booth.

Outside of the six metres, the placement of signage, positioning or behaviour of campaign workers is not regulated by the Electoral Act and therefore not a matter for the AEC. Depending on the nature of an issue, an enquiry could be made with the relevant local council or police.

How-to-vote cards

Political party workers outside the polling place may give voters a how-to-vote card, suggesting you vote for a particular candidate or party. You do not have to accept these cards.

How you choose to vote is your decision. While electors may choose to follow a how-to-vote card, the final decision regarding preferences is in the hands of each elector. As with other forms of election campaigning a how-to-vote card must be authorised.

Spam

In relation to text messages and telephone calls, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has previously advised that the SPAM Act and Do Not Call Register Act don’t apply to registered political parties. Political parties are also not subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988.

The AEC does not disclose the telephone numbers of electors. The AEC has no knowledge of where or how a registered political party obtains telephone numbers of electors.

Postal vote applications from parties

Electoral law allows political parties or candidates to mail postal vote applications to you along with candidate and political party election campaign material.

  • All postal vote applications received back by parties are required to then be forwarded to the AEC for processing.
  • No postal voting packs are sent or received by political parties.

If you do not want to fill out forms provided by a party or candidate, you can apply to the AEC directly. The AEC does not include political party material with any of the forms or printed information that we send to voters.

Broadcasting blackout periods

The broadcasting blackout period is a provision under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, administered by ACMA.  Election ads cannot be broadcast on television and radio from the end of the Wednesday before polling day until the close of the poll on polling day.

The AEC will provide easy access to information regarding how to enrol, vote or run as a candidate through our advertising campaign, website, contact centre and social media accounts.

If there is any incorrect information about these election processes, the AEC will act to correct the record. Outside these election processes – the AEC does not have any role in checking the truth of electoral communication.

Certain electoral communications are required to be authorised to help you to know the source of that information. On receipt of complaints, the AEC will investigate electoral communications that are not properly authorised.

It is the responsibility of each candidate, party or other person or organisation making communications about the federal election to ensure their electoral communications contribute to the federal election and comply with relevant laws, including ensuring that they are appropriately authorised.

Media representatives and social media organisations have a role to play, in both the appropriate creation and distribution of electoral communication. Television and radio broadcasters have obligations in relation to political communications under the broadcasting laws.

Social media companies have platform policies, community guidelines and tools that can help you to ask questions about electoral information on their platforms.

Enquiries or complaints

Updated: 29 May 2020
Back to top