Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of common questions regarding voting and voter fraud in Australia. If you have any other questions that are not answered here, feel free to contact us.
- 1Is voting compulsory in Australia?
- 2What is ‘vote fraud’?
- 3Do we really have vote fraud in Australia?
- 4What kind of fraud happens?
- 5Don’t we have the best election system in the world?
- 6Why should I care about vote fraud?
- 7Can a person vote more than one time in an election?
- 8What happens if I vote more than one time in an election?
- 9Are there laws against multiple voting?
- 10What is ‘multiple voting’?
- 11Why doesn’t someone do something about the fraud?
- 12Are there penalties for illegal voting?
- 13Who is doing the fraud and why?
- 14Do I have to prove who I am when I go to vote?
- 15What difference can a few illegal votes make?
- 16What are some examples of problems with our electoral rolls and what impact did they have?
1. Is voting compulsory in Australia?
Yes. Any citizen of Australia over the age of 18 must enrol and vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums.
2. What is ‘vote fraud’?
‘Vote fraud’ means any illegal activity committed by any person who intends to cause an electoral result that may or may not be consistent with the will of the majority of electors.
3. Do we really have vote fraud in Australia?
Yes. It has been well reported over the years. The more sensational cases include, The Shepherdson Inquiry and the more recent Auburn Council elections.
4. What kind of fraud happens?
Enrolling at addresses that do not exist or do not have homes to live in. Enrolling more people at addresses than actually live there. Voting as someone else or as other people. Voting many times in an election instead of just one time as allowed by law.
5. Don’t we have the best election system in the world?
Some people say that we do, but recent cases of irregularities show that Australia’s electoral system has problems that other countries would not accept.
6. Why should I care about vote fraud?
When people cheat to help candidates win elections, those people are violating your right as a citizen to have electors enrolled correctly and votes counted properly. A person who defrauds honest voters by deliberately breaking electoral laws and exploiting loopholes in electoral procedures has decided that his or her will to see a preferred candidate win dishonestly is more important than the will of the majority of voters to see a candidate win honestly. Illegal behaviour when known to the public impacts the public's faith in the trustworthiness of Australian elections. Democracy depends on public faith and trust in the integrity of elections.
7. Can a person vote more than one time in an election?
Yes. Unfortunately, election procedures enable voters to cast ballots in every polling place in their home electorate on election day – but those who do this must know that they are committing a crime. Unless the ballot paper is ruled as informal (i.e. improperly completed by the elector), it will be counted and included in the election result.
8. What happens if I vote more than one time in an election?
You may get an official letter from the federal or state electoral commission. The letter may demand an explanation. You may get a fine but the electoral commissions have to prove that it was you who voted twice. Ballot papers are not traceable and so the evidence is virtually impossible to obtain and so few people are ever charged and almost none are convicted.
9. Are there laws against multiple voting?
10. What is ‘multiple voting’?
‘Multiple voting’ means that a person is illegally voting more than one time in a particular election to influence the election outcome. Multiple-voting is a criminal offence in Australia but election processes allow it to happen too easily.
11. Why doesn’t someone do something about the fraud?
Many people, including Vote Australia, have been trying to persuade successive federal governments to update our elections laws and demand better process from the Australian Electoral Commission.
12. Are there penalties for illegal voting?
Yes – up to $6600 fine and/or two years imprisonment.
13. Who is doing the fraud and why?
14. Do I have to prove who I am when I go to vote?
No. Voters are only asked to verbally confirm identity. No proof of identity is expected. There is no effective procedural barrier to you voting in whosever name happens to be on the electoral roll at a polling place. Voting in someone else's name is a criminal offence.
15. What difference can a few illegal votes make?
A lot! The average electorate has 100,000 enrolled voters but any election can see the slimmest margins deciding winners. Here are a few examples (Vote Australia does not imply that fraud occurred).
2016 - Herbert Qld - 37 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/20499/Website/HouseDivisionPage-20499-165.htm
2007 - Robertson, NSW - 184 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-146.htm
2007 - Flynn, Qld - 253 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-311.htm
2007 - Solomon, NT - 196 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/13745/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-13745-307.htm
2013 - McEwen, Vic - 313 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-226.htm
2013 - Fairfax, Qld - 53 votes -- http://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-160.htm
16. What are some examples of problems with our electoral rolls and what impact did they have?
Here are just two examples where the rolls are letting down candidates and voters
In 1988, Joan Chambers lost her seat of Ballarat-South by 104 votes. From 1979 to 1982 the number of people on the electoral roll matched the numbers in the population census. In 1985 a discrepancy of 2000 people occurred. By the 1988 election there were around 5000 more names on the roll than in the census. After the election the investigation of one third of the roll found 1506 suspicious names and addresses, of which the Electoral Commissioner confirmed 1081 did not exist as eligible voters. They also found 106 people voted twice, 367 people voted who did not live in the electorate.
In the 1995, Queensland state election, the ALP's Ken Davies initially won the state seat of Mundingburra by just 16 votes. Later the Liberal Party candidate Frank Tanti uncovered some extensive cases of fraudulent alteration of the electoral roll.
Following a hearing by Judge Ambrose in the Court of Disputed Returns, November 1995, it was found that there had been significant faults made by the Electoral Commission officials, namely, people who were not residents and, therefore, ineligible to vote in that electorate had done so. It was also found that the votes of 22 soldiers serving in Rwanda had not been received before voting day. In light of this evidence the July 1995 result was overturned.
When most of the anomalies had been corrected, the By-election, in February 1996, was held and won by Tanti by 1084 votes, 1100 more than received in July ‘95. The loss of the one seat majority meant that the Goss government was replaced by a Liberal National Coalition government, led by Robert Borbidge.