The Voice Referendum 2023: How To Vote Locally Or If You’re Overseas

By Hugo Mathers
20th Sep 2023

On Saturday 14 October, Australia will vote on whether to change the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

The last time Australia held a referendum was back in 1999—so whether you need a quick recap about how this all works or this is your first time ever voting in a referendum, we've got you.

What Is The Voice Referendum?

Voting in a referendum is different from a state or federal election. Voters will be asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a single question. The question on the ballot paper will be:

“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Do you approve this proposed alteration?”

If passed, the Voice would advise Parliament and Government on matters affecting Indigenous communities. The Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, has said she will ask the Voice to prioritise Indigenous health, housing, education and jobs.

You can find more details about the referendum question here

When Is The Voice Referendum?

Saturday 14 October. Polls will be open from 8am to 6pm, local time, wherever you’re based in Australia.

How Do I Vote In The Voice Referendum?

Voting in the voice referendum is compulsory for all Australian citizens aged 18 and older.

It’s important to have made sure you’re enrolled to vote (enrolements closed September 18 at 8pm local time), because you don’t automatically get added to the electoral roll if you've never voted in a federal election or by-election before (if you have, you're all good). You can also check and update your details right here.

In terms of actually putting your vote in, you can vote by going to a polling place to vote in person. Polling booths are set up in public places like schools, churches, public halls and public buildings. The locations haven't been finalised yet, but when they have been, you can find your polling place here.

When you get to the polling booth, you simply need to write 'Yes' or 'No' on the ballot paper.

How Do I Vote In The Voice Referendum If I'm Overseas?

If you’re overseas on 14 October, you will be able to cast your vote in-person at the majority of Australian Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions.

You can check the AEC's overseas voting locations website to see where your nearest polling place is. If you can't attend one of these places, you're encouraged to apply for a postal vote.

Postal voting packs are sent from Australia—not the nearest embassy or consulate—so people applying for an overseas postal vote are being told to apply as soon as possible. The AEC has stated—

"Postal vote packs are sent by Priority Post through Australia Post. Please allow at least a few days for your postal vote pack to reach you by mail, especially if you are in a regional or remote location or are overseas."

Postal vote applications have to be received by the AEC by 6pm (local time) on the Wednesday 11 October. 

Now read on to find out why true climate justice needs First Nations justice.

Image credit: AEC Images

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