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Here's the facts about multiple voting - it is negligible in Australia

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

An AEC tweet has sparked discussion about people voting multiple times in the Voice referendum.

A tweet from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) about the possibility of multiple voting at the Voice to Parliament referendum has sparked discussion and some false claims on social media.


"If someone votes at two different polling places within their electorate, and places their formal vote in the ballot box at each polling place, their vote is counted," the AEC said.


The AEC provided initial context in the replies, however only one of their tweets has widely spread, missing important context. Their website has additional information on the specifics around multiple voting.


Here's the facts: Multiple voting is illegal, and previous elections have shown it is negligible in Australia.


Just 0.03% of the 91.9% turnout for the 2019 federal election were multiple mark-offs, and following the 2013 federal election, 2,000 people admitted to voting twice - just 0.014% of the total votes.


At the 2022 federal election, there was an average of 13 multiple votes per electorate, according to the ABC's Antony Green. With 151 electorates averaging roughly 100,000 voters - that's an average of just 0.013%.


(It goes without saying that this is not about someone voting in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate at the same time).


As then-Acting Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers (who is now the Electoral Commissioner) told a Senate committee in 2013, "the greater majority of those, over 81 per cent" were elderly, had poor literacy skills, or had a "low comprehension of the electoral process".


Psephologist Dr Kevin Bonham, who has also previously scrutineered at multiple elections before, estimates multiple votes "might be something like [very roughly] 0.01%".


"Many apparent multiple votes are clerical errors...of the remainder, the vast majority are unintentional - usually voters with issues such as senility or confusion about the process," he said on Twitter.


When voting, polling booth workers will ask all voters for their full name, address, and whether they’ve voted before in the election. If voters answer 'no' to the third question, their names are marked off the electoral roll, they receive their ballot papers and are then able to vote.


Immediately following any election, or referendum, the AEC will digitally cross-reference the electoral rolls against certified electoral lists (an electronic list of eligible electors) to check if there are multiple marks against names. The AEC will then contact anyone suspected of voting more than once to get information of when, where and if they voted.


6 News has contacted the AEC, who confirmed this is the process for both elections and referendums.


The AEC has also confirmed today: "Everybody is marked off an electronic list at all early voting centres".


"This is real-time mark-off from the roll".

The electoral commission can, and has previously, referred cases of multiple voting to the Australian Federal Police, with imprisonment possible.


"Multiple voting under the Electoral Act or the Referendum Act may take the form of a person voting more than once under their own name. For example, where a person attends more than one polling place on election day or votes more than once using early or postal voting.

20," the AEC website says.


"Multiple voting may also be voting more than once by both voting in their own name, and also voting in the name of another person or persons. For example, in addition to casting their own vote, a person may go to a polling place, claim to be another person whom they know is on the roll for that division, have that person’s name marked off the certified list, and cast another vote."


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