Jacinta Price fires up over PM Anthony Albanese’s ‘tricky’ move on Voice postal votes
Anthony Albanese is deliberately delaying the mail-in vote for The Voice referendum until the last possible moment to hurt the No campaign, claims Coalition Senator Jacinta Price.
She has criticized the government for being “troublesome” in the latest procedural trick, which she says is designed to influence those most likely to vote “no” on the ballot.
It follows the recent outcry over the head of the Australian Elections Commission, Tom Rogers, who admits that vote counters accept ticks on ballot papers, but not crosses.
The government is waiting until the latest possible deadline before the postal voting process can begin, a move some say favors the yes vote.
Although the prime minister announced the referendum date of October 14 as August 30, the government has still not asked the governor-general to issue a summons to the AEC.
By law, the summons can be issued no later than 33 days before the date the referendum is due to take place – and that deadline is Monday, September 11.
The postal voting process cannot begin until the summons is issued – and the Coalition’s No campaign manager says it is a deliberate move by the prime minister to try to skew the result.
Senator Jacinta Price has criticized the administration for being “troublesome” in the latest procedural trick, which she says is designed to have the most impact on those most likely to vote “no” in the referendum vote.
The government is leaving it to the latest possible deadline before the postal voting process can begin, a move some say favors the yes vote
Senator Price says limiting the voting window to the bare minimum required by law has left voters confused, as many believed they could vote immediately.
And she says this will especially affect those who want to vote no.
In the 1999 referendum on Australia becoming a republic, 11 percent more postal voters voted against.
In the last federal election in 2022, three percent more of the electorate voted for conservative parties by mail.
“During this referendum process, Mr. Albanese has shown at all times that he is more interested in putting his thumb on the scales in favor of the ‘Yes’ camp,” she told the paper. Sydney Morning Herald.
“(The) deliberate delay in issuing the subpoena has confused voters who may have requested mailed votes immediately after hearing the date.
This is usually the process when an election date is announced. With their postponement, the government has shortened the time frame for voting by mail.
“It is important that the timetable for the referendum is clearly visible to ensure that the campaign process is fair for both sides.”
The government claims the delay in issuing the summons has allowed people more time to register to vote, especially in outback areas with high indigenous populations.
The enrollment period ends seven days after the summons is issued, and the government has relaxed identity rules to make it easier for some to get on the electoral roll.
Voters now only need a Medicare card or certificate of Australian citizenship to register under the changes introduced last February.
“We’ve made it easier for people to register to vote – because Indigenous Australians have long had lower enrollment rates,” a spokesman said.
“Thanks to these efforts, more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are now registered to vote than at any time in our country’s history, from 80 per cent a year ago to over 94.1 per cent today.”
They added: “There is nothing unusual about the time when the subpoenas are issued.
Former Prime Minister John Howard waited six weeks after the date was announced (in 1999) before issuing the writs (for the Republic referendum).
“We are taking the opportunity to ensure that as many people as possible can be registered to vote – we are not sure why the opposition would think registration is a bad thing.”
The AEC said that even with the delayed start of the mail-in voting process, voters would still have one month to cast their mail-in ballots until October 11 at 6 p.m.
“Under the law, applications for voting by mail cannot be opened until a referendum summons (the formal instruction to conduct the referendum) has been issued,” said an AEC spokesman.
“The timing of the subpoena is up to the government – they advise the governor general who issues the subpoena to the AEC. The process of issuing a summons is unchanged.’
They added: “In recent elections, the AEC has been able to open applications for mail-in voting from the announcement of an election date.
‘But the law for referenda (which is of course a matter for parliament) is something else.
“For a referendum on October 14, a summons can be issued no later than Monday, September 11, so mail-in voting will open no later than Monday, September 11 at 6:00 PM and will be open for a whole month (until Wednesday, October 11, 6:00 PM).
“Plenty of time for people to think about their circumstances – whether or not they can vote in person and, if necessary, request a postal ballot.”
Although the Prime Minister announced the referendum date of October 14 as August 30, the government has still not asked the Governor General to issue a summons to the AEC
They said they were aware of political parties submitting their own voting applications by mail or online links to submit applications that they said were legal and that took place in every election or referendum.
But they warned that using a third-party site to submit a postal inquiry could put their personal information at risk.
“The AEC encourages people who need to vote by mail to apply directly through the AEC website,” she added.
‘By requesting a postal vote directly via the AEC website, a ballot paper can be distributed more quickly.
“The AEC also operates under the Privacy Act and voting requests involve the disclosure of personal information.”