Enrol To Vote

The Australian Electoral Commission is urging people to go online and enrol to vote.

Online enrolment requires evidence of a person’s identity. A driver’s licence or Australian passport number can be used. Someone who is enrolled to vote can also confirm an individual’s identity.


You are required by law to enrol if you:

  • are an Australian citizen, or eligible British subject,
  • aged 18 years and over, and
  • have lived at your address for at least one month.

If you are 16 or 17 you can enrol now so when you turn 18 you’ll be able to vote.

There are special provisions for enrolment for:

  • silent electors – people who do not want their name and address published on the electoral roll
  • general postal voters – people who automatically receive a postal vote at each election
  • people with no fixed address
  • people overseas or going overseas
  • people physically incapable of signing
  • prisoners
  • Norfolk Island electors
  • people working in Antarctica
  • people with a disability
  • seniors

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  1. Don E. Leeman says:

    This question is being raised in an attempt to learn something about your electoral system.
    In the USA, we have no laws forcing anyone to vote. Here, it is considered a Right, and it is true that many do not vote because there is not enough to motivate them to vote for one candidate over another.
    In Australia, it appears that voting is mandatory. While I’m not sure if that really changes the final results, I have noticed one little flaw in the system. From what I’ve read of your Constitution, there does not appear to be any penalties for failing to vote! Common sense would seem to indicate that if there are no penalties, then the law really has no power other than perhaps “moral suasion”.
    As a former Senior Elections Official in my community in the state of New Hampshire, I have to wonder how you deal with those people who do not vote. For example, what if a person turns sick the day before or the day of the election? Those things cannot be helped, of course, and I have to wonder if you do penalize people who fail to vote because of illness.
    I look forward to reading your response.

    As I think they say in your nation: “G’Day”!

    Don E. Leeman

    • Australia has had compulsory voting since the 1920s. Turnout had fallen to 58% in the 1922 federal election. After it was made compulsory, turnout has always been above 90%. It was 93.83% in the last election in 2010. It has been around the 93-95% mark for decades.

      There is a $20 penalty for not voting. Following each election, a penalty notice is sent to people who did not vote. If they do not have a satisfactory excuse, they are fined. Work commitments and religious beliefs are not valid excuses because a variety of options exist to cater for this: pre-poll voting, postal voting, etc. However, I’m sure a sudden and serious illness would be accepted as an excuse. We also have mobile polling booths that visit hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, remote locations, etc, in the weeks leading up to election day.

      It is also compulsory to ENROL to vote but the Australian Electoral Commission’s practice is not to fine people for previous failure to enrol. They are more concerned to get people on the roll. Penalties only apply to enrolled voters who do not vote.

      Compulsory voting has its critics, mainly from conservative organisations, but it has broad acceptance in Australia. Neither of the major parties supports its abolition. It is generally accepted that our system is unrivalled in facilitating voting and assisting people to vote. The high turnout gives added legitimacy to the concept of majority rule.

      The Australian Electoral Commission has published this backgrounder on compulsory voting. (PDF)