Australian Election Highlights Voting Difficulties For Expats

By Editorial 16 August, 2013

With Australia's federal election due to take place next month, Australian expats are complaining about rules that make it "difficult or impossible" for most overseas Australians to cast their votes.

Currently, an enrolled Australian who has been abroad for less than three years can register as an overseas voter, although they must indicate an intention to return to Australia within six years of their departure. After six years, voting status can be retained only on a year-by-year basis, and again an intention to return "at some time" must be expressed. Overseas Australians who miss an election may also be removed from the electoral roll.

Those who lose their enrolment status can have it restored only by returning to Australia and taking up residence again for at least one month.

The Southern Cross Group, which lobbies for reform, argues that these restrictions are unfair, and compare unfavorably with the situation for US expats, who retain life-long voting rights, and for Brits abroad, who can vote for 15 years after leaving the UK. Anne MacGregor, who co-founded the group, told the media that many Australians were surprised to discover they could no longer vote, and she described the Australian diaspora as a "big fleet of roaming ambassadors." She added that expat votes could have an important impact on marginal seats.

Those who remain eligible to vote can register as postal voters. From August 26, overseas voting in person will be available at most Australian Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions.

Tags: Expatriates | Expat Groups | Australia | Expats | Lifestyle | Lifestyle |


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