ELECTORAL REFORMS TO INCREASE VOTER PARTICIPATION

Posted on 07. Jun, 2010 in Clayton Update

Young Victorians will be automatically enrolled to vote in Victorian elections, and unregistered voters will be able to enrol on election day, under reforms to be implemented by the Brumby Labor Government.

Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the Government was taking action to ensure the greatest number of eligible Victorians were enrolled to vote ahead of the State election.

“Electoral participation is a key element of a healthy democracy,” Mr Hulls said. “The Brumby Labor Government is committed to ensuring that all eligible Victorians are able to effectively participate in the electoral system.”

Under a trial, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) will be given the power to automatically enrol students aged 18 years and older who are registered with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA).

Mr Hulls said the VEC already had the power to collect and use personal information from Government agencies, including the VCAA, for enrolment purposes.

“The VEC currently receives about 60,000 records of VCE students each year from the VCAA and sends birthday cards to students turning 17, inviting them to enrol,” Mr Hulls said.

“Unfortunately, despite the legal requirement for all 18 year olds to enrol, many don’t fill in the required form and the response rate to the VEC’s mail-out in 2008-09 was only 19 per cent, or 11,295 enrolments.

“This reflects evidence that electoral participation rates throughout Australia of young people aged 18 to 25 years remain significantly lower than for the rest of the population, with the number of young Victorians enrolled 8 per cent below that of the general eligible population.”

Mr Hulls said about 42,000 students turn 18 during Year 12. “The new streamlined enrolment process mirrors the approach taken in NSW and will enable the VEC to enrol 18 year olds shortly after their birthday,” he said.

Mr Hulls said the reforms would also allow eligible people not on the Victorian roll to enrol on election day.

“Traditional strategies which rely on people taking the time to enrol have not kept pace with modern times and advances in technology,” Mr Hulls said. “People are living increasingly busy and complex lives and, even with the best of intentions, can struggle to fill in yet another form.

“At the 2006 Victorian election, as many as 66,000 eligible Victorians attempted to vote but had their ballots rejected because they were not on the State electoral roll.”

A further reform would widen the availability of electronic voting to those electors who otherwise cannot vote without assistance because of a visual impairment, a motor impairment or insufficient literacy skills, whether in English or in their primary spoken language.

Please contact my office on 9543 6081 if you require a new enrolment form or you need a form to notify the electoral commission of a change of address.

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