The House of Representatives and the Senate are the two houses that make up the Commonwealth Parliament in Australia.
When Australians vote for their candidates in these two houses, they are choosing someone to represent them, voice their needs, and suggest improvements in the country making voting a crucial activity for which Australians participate.
Who Can Vote?
The prerequisite to voting in the Australian elections is, of course, to be a legal Australian citizen first.
If you are an Australian citizen aged 18 and above, have lived at your registered address for a month or more, and have enrolled or registered to vote, then you are eligible to vote during the next election.
You can enrol yourself as a voter when you are 16 or 17 depending on when the next election will be held. By doing so, you can start voting in the next election if you have turned 18 by then.
You will need either an Australian passport number, your driver’s license or someone who has been enrolled to vote who can vouch for your identity to register for voting.
You can enrol via www.aec.gov.au/enrol and check if you have successfully registered for the next election at www.aec.gov.au/check.
Who Must Vote?
Since 1924, eligible voters in Australia have been required to vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums in compulsory voting. Sixty years later in 1984, Indigenous Australians were also required to vote.
By introducing compulsory voting and imposing penalties for failing to turn up for mandatory elections, Australian election turnouts are above 90%.
You can appeal these fines if you have a good reason as to why you missed out on these elections.
The Australian government has made it convenient for its citizens to vote by holding election days only on Saturdays as well as providing different voting methods for Australians who cannot make it to the polling stations.
How to Vote?
As a registered voter, you can vote at any polling station in your home state or territory. These locations will be made available by the Australian Electoral Commissions a week or two before election day so that you can check for your nearest polling station in advance.
On the voting day itself, you can cast your vote at your preferred polling station between 8 AM and 6 PM.
When you arrive at the election centre, an official will ask for your name and address to confirm your electorate and mark your name off the electoral roll to affirm that you have voted.
Then the election official will provide you with ballot papers on which you can indicate the candidate for which you are voting.
You can then cast your vote, and your job as a voter is considered complete.
However, should you be unable to vote in person at these stations due to being overseas or other reasons, you can choose to vote early at available early polling stations.
Alternatively, if you are going to be overseas, you will need to complete an overseas notification form and vote on a different date or cast your vote via postal ballots after completing a postal vote application.