from The Age
A last-minute surge has seen a record number of Australians enrolled to vote ahead of the upcoming postal survey on same-sex marriage.
The Australian Electoral Commission on Friday released figures it described as “extraordinary” that show 90,000 new voters – mostly the young – had joined the roll since the survey was announced on August 8.
The development delighted same-sex marriage advocates but alarmed nervous Coalition MPs, who believe the enlarged youth vote will come back to bite them at the next election.
A further 675,000 people had updated their electoral details, and 165,000 transactions were yet to be processed as of Thursday night, the AEC said.
In total, almost 1 million Australians had either enrolled for the first time or updated their details.
Once all transactions are processed, the number of new voters should easily exceed 100,000.
Electoral Commissioner Tim Rogers said he expected the total proportion of Australians on the roll, which was 95.3 per cent on July 31, to reach a “record high” once processing was completed.
“The maintenance of the roll is a significant achievement given the trend throughout recent electoral cycles for enrolment rates to dip mid-cycle,” he said.
The result is notable because it has only been 14 months since the last general election.
By comparison, 132,000 new voters enrolled in the lead-up to the July 2016 poll.
Of the 800,000 people who were not on the roll on June 30, almost two thirds were aged under 40.
PLEBISCITE RESULT VULNERABLE TO COUNTERFEIT VOTES
Results of the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite may be entirely unreliable due to the counterfeiting of postal votes, says Australian electoral reform group, Vote Australia Inc.
Vote Australia says risk to the result of the plebiscite stems from legislation that hasn’t been fixed.
“It’s a fact that any person in any electorate can vote multiple times and those votes can influence voting results. The existing legislation makes enrolling to vote with multiple identities far too easy,” says Vote Australia president, Lex Stewart.
The concerns about the plebiscite are part of a campaign by Vote Australia to involve all Australians, political parties and community groups in demanding urgent reforms to electoral laws before public mistrust in election results deepens further.
The new campaign website, freeandfair.org.au, identifies four specific weaknesses with Australian electoral procedures that could taint outcomes of the plebiscite:
Faulty voter rolls
“This plebiscite is an opportunity for our nation’s leaders to focus on fixing the problems with our electoral system so that voting outcomes are free and fair for all Australians.” says Mr Stewart.
Vote Australia does not take a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ position in this postal plebiscite. It encourages all Australians to vote honestly.