It is generally compulsory for all eligible Australian citizens to enrol and vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums. It is also generally compulsory for all eligible ACT residents to enrol and vote in ACT elections.
People who are enrolled to vote and do not vote may be fined (unless they have a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote or they are homeless).
However, enrolling to vote and voting is not compulsory for people who do not have a permanent home. If you have been living in a permanent home for a month or more, you must enrol to vote as normal.
1. Who is eligible to vote?
You are eligible to vote in federal elections if you are:
- at least 18 years, and
- an Australian citizen or a British subject who was enrolled to vote immediately before 26 January 1984.
There are minor exceptions to this, including if you are serving a sentence of imprisonment for 3 or more years.
You can vote in ACT elections if you can vote in federal elections and live in the ACT. You can still vote in ACT elections (even if you cannot vote in federal elections) because you are serving a sentence of imprisonment for 3 or more years, and your address is in the ACT.
2. How to enrol without a fixed address
If you do not have a permanent home and would like to vote, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has a form called “Enrolment for persons with no fixed address”, which you can fill in and give to the AEC. If you do this, you may be enrolled to vote. You can enrol for the address where:
- you were last eligible to enrol;
- your close family are enrolled if you have not previously been eligible to enrol; or
- you were born if neither of the above apply, or
- you have the closest connection if none of the above applies.
3. When to enrol
If you want to be enrolled to vote in federal elections, then you have to apply for enrolment within 7 days after the election day is formally announced.
Once you have a permanent home and have lived there for one month, you should enrol to vote within 21 days for federal elections. For ACT elections, if you are enrolled in an electorate, and move electorates within the ACT, you must make a claim for a transfer of enrolment within 52 days of changing address. If you do not enrol to vote or change addresses within these time frames, and you don’t have a reasonable excuse, you may be fined.
If you would like to keep your address private for safety reasons, you can enrol or register as a silent elector by completing a “silent elector” form. You will also need to complete the statutory declaration at the back of the form and explain what you consider the risk to your family to be and why your personal safety or that of your family is at risk.
4. Where can I vote?
For the ACT elections you don’t need to vote at any particular polling place. You can cast an ordinary vote at any polling place in the ACT, even if you are outside your electorate.
For the federal elections, if you are interstate, you can vote at interstate voting centres on election day or by post. If you are in the ACT, you can vote at any polling place.
If you are overseas, you can vote in person at an overseas voting centre, or by post.
You may also apply for postal votes through the AEC.
5. The process
|For Commonwealth and Territory elections||Submit your Enrolment for persons with no fixed address form to:
No stamp is needed if you are posting your form in Australia
You can scan and upload the form here: https://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/send-form.htm
The material in this fact sheet is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this publication without first getting legal advice about their particular situations.
If you would like more information, please contact Street Law on (02) 6218 7900 or email@example.com. Street Law is a program of Canberra Community Law Ltd.
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Last updated: 14 May 2021