Compulsory Voting in Australia

July 1, 2021

Ever wonder how compulsory voting in Australia works? If so, then you have come to the right place!


First Off, What Is Compulsory Voting?

Compulsory voting is when a country legally requires that a citizen who is of legal voting age participates in elections. Some countries that currently enforce compulsory voting are:

  • Argentina
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Thailand
  • Uruguay
  • Australia

For more information on compulsory voting and how it works check out this page.

What Is Compulsory Voting Like in Australia?

In Australia, if you do not register to vote or go to the polls if you are eighteen years old and older there is a chance that you might receive a fine. The fine itself is pretty minuscule (anywhere between about $15 to $55 USD); however, it is enough to encourage voters to go out and participate in the election. With that said, if you do not vote you do not automatically receive a fine. Voters are given the opportunity to appeal a fine and explain why they were unable to participate in the election.

In recent years, there has been a rise seen in informal spoiled ballots. This is when a ballot is submitted into the polls and is either blank or filled out incorrectly and cannot be counted in the final tally. As well, there are also some ballots that are a donkey vote. A donkey vote is when a voter lists their preferences in the order of appearance. Donkey votes still count towards the results of an election.

Australia voting hotdog

Although there have been chats within some of the political parties regarding abolishing compulsory voting the current system largely has support from people across the country. Many local community groups even use election day to help raise money by setting up a grill at the polling stations, so when you go to vote you have the additional bonus of supporting a local cause and enjoying some food. As well, in Australia election day takes place on a Saturday which makes it easier for a majority of the voters to be able to go out and participate. The large amount of people present along with the food helps to create a fun atmosphere at the polling stations. You also don’t have to vote in person, there are other ways to vote.

Australia is a great example of a country that enforces their compulsory voting laws and how they make it work for them. It is interesting to see and learn about different countries democratic processes and how it makes an impact when it comes to elections.

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