Referendum voting day will be Saturday 14 October 2023.
Early voting centres will be open in the two weeks prior to referendum day.
At a referendum, you will receive a ballot paper with the proposed alteration to the Constitution on it, followed by a question asking if you approve the proposed alteration. On the referendum ballot paper you need to indicate your vote by clearly writing:
- YES in the box if you approve the proposed alteration, OR
- NO in the box if you do not approve the proposed alteration.
Practise voting - Referendum
You can use this sample ballot paper to practise voting in a Referendum. Submit the answer that you have written in the box to see if your answer will result in a formal vote.
The formal voting instructions for the referendum are to clearly write yes or no, in full, in English. The Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 requires voters to write ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in full, in English, in the space provided on the referendum ballot paper. This will be part of our campaign advertising, it is on our website, in the guides delivered to all Australian households, it will be the instruction on the ballot paper and will be re-enforced by our polling officials when people are issued with their ballot paper.
We expect the vast, vast majority of voters to follow those instructions.
The formality rules for referendums have been the same for a long period of time – this includes ‘vote saving provisions’ which allow for a vote to be counted where the instructions have not been followed but where the voter’s intention is clear. Vote saving provisions exist for federal elections as well. The AEC does not have any discretion to simply ignore vote saving provisions. Vote saving provisions have been in referendum legislation for more than 100 years. Since 1988 the AEC has followed legal advice regarding the application of savings provisions to ‘ticks’ and ‘crosses’ on referendum ballot papers (over 30 years and multiple referendums). This is not new.
The issue with a cross is that on many forms people in Australia use in daily life, and in some other languages, a cross represents a ‘check mark’ indicating yes – it is therefore open to interpretation whether the cross denotes approval or disapproval. A clear ‘tick’ can be interpreted as denoting approval for the proposal.
A clear ‘y’ or ‘n’ can indicate the voter’s intent – however if the handwriting is unclear it could risk an informal vote. This is why the Commissioner, and the AEC will be very clear and regular with our communication that people need to write the word ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in English, in full.
Use of symbols
While this tool does not recognise symbols, it is best to follow the instructions on the ballot paper and write a 'yes' or 'no' vote. Don't leave your vote up to chance or to be potentially questioned. Make your vote count.