This Saturday 2nd of July, the members of the 45th Parliament of Australia will be decided by national population vote. Today Skwirk Explores ACHCK023 in Stage 3 to help develop students’ understanding of voting, elections and Federal Government structures allowing them to better interact and process media and discussions occurring around them during this time. Let us know some of the ways you have addressed the upcoming Federal Election as a topic in your classroom!
Who can vote
All Australians over the age of 18 must vote in elections.
To be allowed to vote you must enrol as a voter. You can enrol if you are
- 17 years old; and
- an Australian citizen.
It is compulsory to enrol when you are 18 years old.
The system was not always like this, as there were times when both women and Aboriginal people were not allowed to vote. Different States allowed women and Aboriginal people the right to vote in different years. Generally women were allowed to vote by 1908 and Aboriginal people were only allowed to vote in all States by 1967.
When and where do you vote?
Elections are held on a Saturday and people vote at their nearest polling place. Often these polling places are in local schools or community halls. People are placed in electoral divisions and generally must vote at a polling place within that division.
For people who cannot vote because they are away or out of their local area there are special procedures. These include:
People who are away from their electoral division but in the same State can still vote by casting an absentee vote. This means that they can vote in another electorate.
People who are overseas or who are seriously ill and are unable to go to a polling booth can vote by post, or cast a vote before the voting day.
Election day is always on a Saturday. Polling places open at 8.00 am and close at 6.00 pm.
At the polling places there are different people who play an important role in the voting process. The three main types of people at the polling places are:
Party Workers (for example Labor Party or Liberal Party volunteers) standing outside polling places handing out how-to-vote cards. The cards show voters how particular candidates would like the voters to fill in their ballot papers.
Polling Officials are employed and trained by the Australian Electoral Commission and make sure that the voting is carried out correctly. They are required to ask voters three questions:
What is your full name? What is your address? Have you voted before in this election?
The official checks the voter’s enrolment on the certified roll and gives the voter a ballot paper to vote with. The voter then goes alone into the voting booth to vote in secret. The voter then puts the completed ballot papers into the sealed ballot boxes.
Scrutineers represent the candidates. They are allowed to go to the polling place to observe but cannot influence any voter. The most important task of the scrutineers is to watch the count and make sure that only formal votes are counted and that they are counted properly.
A secret ballot means that when a voter casts a ballot no name appears on the voting paper. Although the name of the voter is checked of by an official before voting, no one knows who a person voted for. This is an important part of the democratic system because it means no one can be forced or pressured into voting for a particular candidate. Secret ballots help to eliminate corruption in the voting process.
The voting systems for the two houses of parliament (the Senate and the House of Representatives) are different. Voters are given two separate ballot papers (voting slips) for each house. (Refer Chapter 3: Voting Systems).
Current Skwirk subscribers can access all our content on this chapter here including a voting-themed interactive game and six “Prove It” exercises to demonstrate your student’s knowledge on voting! Not a Skwirk subscriber? You can access this content and more through a free trial of Skwirk to use these resources in your classroom during the election period.