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Autistic guide to postal voting

 

Guide written by Amaze’s Communications and Training Adviser and autistic adult Joel Wilson.

Over the next few weeks in the lead up to the state election, I’ll be sharing advice on the different ways you can vote and the different supports that you can access to help make voting less stressful.This week, I’ll be looking at postal voting. It’s a great option to vote because it can be done without going to a voting centre or even leaving your own home!If postal voting is your preference, you will need to complete the process sooner rather than later. Don’t stress if you’re just finding out now, however, as postal voting applications have just opened today. Below is the two choices you have for postal voting for the Victoria state election 2018.

 

Register to be a postal voter for the Victoria state election 2018

This method will register you as a postal voter for this upcoming election only. If you choose this option and want to be a postal voter for any future elections, you will have to re-register. See the second method, below, for how to register as a postal voter for all elections.

You can apply for a postal vote between Wednesday 31 October and 6.00 pm Wednesday 21 November 2018. Returned votes, however, must be postmarked before 6.00 pm on Saturday 24 November and received no later than 6.00 pm on Friday 30 November.

To apply online, click here

Alternatively, paper application forms are available from any Australia Post office or Victorian election office.

 

Register to be a general postal voter for the Victoria state election 2018 and all future elections

This method will enrol you as a general postal voter for all elections, including local, state and federal elections. People enrolled as general postal voters automatically receive a ballot pack in the mail each election.

To apply to be a general postal voter:

  1. Fill in the following application form
    General postal voter application form
  2. Send it to the VEC so it arrives before the close of roll – Tuesday 6 November 2018.

It’s probably too late to trust Australia Post to deliver the application form on time, so here’s my three suggested options:

  1. Scan and then upload your completed form here;
  2. Fax it to 02 6293 7604;
  3. Or drop it off in person at an Australian Electoral Commission Office. Find your local office here

 

Seeking registration as a general postal voter

In the general postal voter application form, you will have to select from a list of options as to why you need to vote by post. Inconveniently, there is no clear option for autistic people to select.

Here’s what I did: under Question 6, the relevant question, I selected the option listed as ‘unable to travel from the place I live to a polling place because of serious illness and infirmity’. When I uploaded the form online, I also used the further comments section. There, I wrote that I have autism and struggle with sensory overloads, and require longer time to complete the forms in an environment I can control.

Unfortunately, the language on the general postal voting application form is a bit outdated. I’ve spoken to the Victorian Electoral Commission, and they’re going to take my feedback to the next disability accessibility meeting they have with the Australian Electoral Commission—who oversee all elections—to see if it can be changed in the future.

Hopefully in the future there will be an option that is as simple and clear as “unable to vote in person due to a disability”, with no further information required.

 

My choice

I’ve applied to be a general postal voter. People representing different parties, candidates wanting to give me how-to-vote cards, the smell of sausage sizzles, talking to someone to tick your name off, processing how I’m going to vote—going to a voting centre is all really overwhelming and stressful! Postal voting means they send me the papers I need in the mail and I can take my time to think about how I want my vote to count in the comfort of my own home.

Of course, this option may not be the best option for you, your family member, or an autistic person you support or care for.

Next week I’m going to describe some of the advantages of voting at an early polling booth, and some of the resources available to make the voting process easier.

 

General voting information:

All Australian citizens aged 18 years or older must enrol and vote in all Australian elections: local government, State and Federal.

The Victorian State Election is on Saturday 24TH November, 2018.

You must be correctly enrolled before 8pm, Tuesday 6 November 2018 – that’s next week!

You can check to see if you’re enrolled correctly with your details up to date here: https://enrolment.vec.vic.gov.au/

If you have moved house/changed address, then you’ll need to update your details on the Australian Electoral Commission website: https://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/change-address.htm

And if you’ve never enrolled to vote, or like me this is your first time voting in Victoria, you have to register here: https://www.aec.gov.au/enrol/

Remember to update your details you need either a driver’s license, passport, or know someone who is enrolled that can confirm who you are.