Concerns political parties are misleading voters about postal vote applications

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The Australian Electoral Commission is advising people to vote in person if they can or apply for a postal vote through them if you need one. Picture: AEC

THE Australian Electoral Commission is urging all voters who need a postal vote to go to the AEC directly – and only if they need one.

On Saturday, April 16 electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said he’d written to political parties and candidates about their distribution of postal vote applications.

“It’s legal but it is potentially misleading and we’re concerned,” he said.

“There is a multitude of issues we’re seeing and it’s the number one complaint we’re receiving from Australians with thousands of pieces of correspondence received across social media and more traditional complaint channels in just days.”

“Firstly, the election is an in-person event. People are attending concerts, sporting events and cafes – most voters will come to a polling place so we don’t need the mass distribution of postal votes.”

“We’ve also seen the wrong forms distributed in one division, our colour purple used in a potentially misleading way in another and voters being directed to generically named websites en masse with the potential to mislead.

“People have a right to know what they’re doing with their personal data.

“The AEC takes privacy seriously and operates under the Privacy Act, political parties don’t have to.”

“While we haven’t seen unauthorised postal vote applications, the use of colour and wording means someone who doesn’t examine the material in detail could mistake it for a piece of AEC communication.”

“Political parties send postal vote applications to residents every election but the increased variation of channels and wording this election, combined with the environment, is of concern.”

“Our message couldn’t be clearer – vote in person if you can, apply for a postal vote through us if you need one.”