Brown is the new green: federal elections have a fresh look

Updated: 3 December 2020

Polling booths at federal elections are poised to change appearance and become more environmentally friendly with the introduction of plain brown voting screens and other cardboard products.

The locally produced items – which are lighter, stronger, and easier to recycle and reuse – were fully deployed for the first time at the weekend’s Groom federal by-election.

The Australian Electoral Commissioner, Tom Rogers, said the new “raw” cardboard would be used across Australia at the next general election.

“There’s no getting around the fact that elections are – and probably always will be – highly manual and resource-intensive exercises,” Mr Rogers said.

“But the introduction of these raw, biodegradable cardboard products sharpens the AEC’s environmental focus, improves efficiency and makes better use of essential materials.

“They are easier to recycle because they’re not ‘wrapped’ in purple-and-white AEC paper, and for this same reason they can be used for state and territory elections.”

ACT Electoral Commissioner, Damian Cantwell AM, said the new AEC cardboard products were one of many “sharing” arrangements in place during the ACT Legislative Assembly election in October.

“A portion of the raw cardboard voting booths used by Elections ACT was provided by the AEC and proved stable, hardy, simple to put together, easy to pack and transport, and, importantly, user-friendly for ACT residents,” Mr Cantwell said.

The cardboard initiative follows on from the AEC’s move to donate to Indigenous organisations and schools – situated in rural and regional areas of Australia – useful items from the May 2019 federal election, such as first-aid kits and stationery.

Mr Rogers said the new cardboard items were a far cry from the wooden voting screens used for Australian federal elections until the 1980s.

“This small but important move further demonstrates our continued desire to build on Australia’s worldwide reputation for holding consistent, well-managed and accountable elections,” Mr Rogers said.

Brown is the new green: federal elections have a fresh look