Post–election processes – frequently asked questions

Updated: 29 October 2019

Running a manual event so large in scale provides a responsibility to ensure resources that can be re-used do not go to waste. After each electoral event, election material is either stored for reuse, recycled, disposed or donated.

Decisions are made based on whether material is recyclable, whether it is cost-effective to store it between electoral events and any environmental impacts. For example, AEC IT materials are procured to last a number of electoral events with large volumes of cardboard and other items also stored. Materials that are often donated include first-aid kits and stationery materials such as pens, pencils, highlighters, blu-tac and bulldog clips. The AEC carefully considers recipients of donations according to need. The AEC also liaises with state and territory electoral management bodies on the potential for re-use of election materials for other Australian electoral events.

You will receive a letter from the AEC if, according to our records, you did not vote at a recent federal election or by-election. If you did vote, you should advise the AEC and provide details by the due date.

If you didn’t vote, you will need to provide a valid and sufficient reason why, or pay the $20 penalty.

See electoral backgrounder – compulsory voting or non-voters for further information.

It is at the discretion of the AEC’s Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) for each electorate to determine whether you have provided a valid and sufficient reason for not voting.

The DRO will make a determination in accordance with section 245 (5) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. The DRO will consider the merits of your individual case and take into account any specific circumstances at the polling places within their division in making a determination.

Please provide details of the reasons why you were unable to vote in the relevant section of the notice, and return it to the AEC. The DRO will consider the merits of your individual case and take into account any specific circumstances at the polling places within their division.

If the DRO is not satisfied that the reason you have provided is valid and sufficient, you will be notified by the AEC.

Immediately after each federal election the AEC scans large volumes of voter lists from polling places and compares marked off names. The AEC follows up every case where a voter is marked off more than once. These are known as instances of 'apparent multiple marks'.

After initial examination of voter lists the AEC writes to voters who have apparent multiple marks against their name and requests they provide a response as to whether or not they voted more than once, and where. This is a comprehensive process that involves AEC further follow-up if no response is received, and continues until the task is complete. Responses are carefully assessed and distilled to the cases where the AEC cannot reasonably exclude the possibility that multiple voting has occurred. Prior experience indicates that most multiple voting instances are mistakes by voters, including instances of elderly voters casting their vote with a mobile team, and later at a polling place.

The AEC has no authority to prosecute multiple voting in a court of law. These are matters for the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to consider. Recourse exists within the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to take a matter to the Court of Disputed Returns if the number of multiple votes exceeds the winning margin in a seat but this has never occurred. The AEC prioritises its examination of multiple voting in close seats in the post-election period to ensure that an election result is safe.

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