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Episode 57: Early Voting in Australian Elections

Voters que at a polling booth at West Epping Public School in the electorate of Bennelong in Sydney.

It's compulsory for all Australian citizens to vote in the federal election, but not everyone has to cast a ballot on election day.

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Italian

L’Australian Electoral Commission mette in atto disposizioni speciali per coloro che non possono votare il giorno delle elezioni, purché rispondano a certi requisiti.

Gli elettori e le elettrici possono votare anticipatamente per posta o andando ad un early voting centre (centro per il voto anticipato) se non possono votare il giorno delle elezioni.

Il portavoce della AEC Evan Ekin-Smyth ha dichiarato che ci sono molte opzioni, indipendentemente da dove si trovano le persone nel Paese.

"You do not have to be within your state. If you're traveling over the other side of the country and you need to cast your vote you can go to one in WA despite being from Melbourne or Sydney. It is really good access in that regard. If you look at overseas elections we're the world best in terms of access to your vote. So if you can't make it on election day there's early voting options out there for you."

Per votare in anticipo, le persone devono essere al di fuori del loro elettorato, a più di otto km. da un seggio, gravemente ammalate, o in procinto di partorire.

Possono votare prima anche alcuni detenuti e coloro che hanno fedi religiose che impediscono loro di recarsi ad un seggio.

Anche i cosiddetti silent voters e persone che hanno timori ragionevoli per la propria incolumità possono scegliere di votare prima.

Per coloro che viaggiano all'estero, Ekin-Smyth elenca le seguenti opzioni.

"If you are going to be overseas during the election, you can still vote. We offer nearly 90 overseas voting centres, so in countries where there are a lot of Australian travellers or ex-pats. So if you can get down to one of those embassies and cast a vote in person, than that's fantastic. The other option available is postal voting. As soon as the election in announced you can jump online and apply for a postal vote."

Nelle elezioni federali del 2007 e del 2010, il tasso di voto anticipato è stato del 15% e del 18% rispettivamente, mentre nelle elezioni del 2016 ha raggiunto quasi il 30%.

Secondo gli esperti i partiti non possono più strutturare le proprie campagne come facevano una volta.

Secondo la dottoressa Jenis Stock, visiting research fellow alla University of Adelaide, il tasso di chi vota prima è in aumento in parte perché ora è più facile votare in anticipo.

A suo parere coloro che votano prima non sono elettori indecisi, ma questo potrebbe cambiare, inducendo i partiti politici a ripensare le proprie strategie durante la campagna elettorale.

"This is theory could have quite a impact if during the campaign, say the last week something fairly dramatic happens that turned people against the government or the opposition that affects proportion of people. That is probably fairly unlikely these days because most people are set in their ways and they know the issues being fought."

Peter Brent è un docente di scienze politiche alla Swinburne University, nel Victoria.

A suo parere resta poco chiaro come partiti e candidati struttureranno le proprie campagne per affrontare l'aumento di voti anticipati.

Per Brent nel passato era possibile prevedere chi avrebbe votato prima (tendenzialmente elettori conservatori), ma questo sta cambiando.

"They traditionally favour the conservatives but because the nature of the early voter is changing with every election we can't really say whether that will maintain.  Certainly in the past a) you got postal voters out in the country and they are more likely to vote for conservative parties and b) people who are holidaying are more likely to vote right of centre. So it has traditionally favoured the conservative parties."

Una lista di centri per il voto anticipato in Australia e all'estero sarà disponibile nelle prossime settimane. 


 

English

The A-E-C makes provisions for people who are unable to vote on election day as long as they meet certain conditions.

Voters can either pre poll vote via post or go to an early voting centre if they are unable to vote on election day.

Spokesman for the A-E-C Evan Ekin-Smyth says there are many options regardless of where people are in the country.

"You do not have to be within your state. If you're traveling over the other side of the country and you need to cast your vote you can go to one in WA despite being from Melbourne or Sydney. It is really good access in that regard. If you look at overseas elections we're the world best in terms of access to your vote. So if you can't make it on election day there's early voting options out there for you."

In order to vote early, people need to be outside their electorate, more than eight kilometres from a polling place, seriously ill, or about to give birth.

Some prisoners, and those who have religious beliefs that prevent them from attending a polling place, can also vote early.

Silent electors and people who have a reasonable fear for their safety can also choose to vote early.

For those travelling overseas Mr Ekin-Smyth says there are options.

"If you are going to be overseas during the election, you can still vote. We offer nearly 90 overseas voting centres, so in countries where there are a lot of Australian travellers or ex-pats. So if you can get down to one of those embassies and cast a vote in person, than that's fantastic. The other option available is postal voting. As soon as the election in announced you can jump online and apply for a postal vote."

In the 2007 and 2010 federal elections, the rate of early voting was 15 per cent and 18 per cent respectively, while in the 2016 election the rate hit almost 30 per cent.

Experts say this means political parties cannot structure their campaigns in the way they once did.

Dr Jenis Stock is a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide, she says rates are increasing partly because it is now easier to cast an early vote.

She says most of those who vote early are not swinging voters, but this could change, prompting political parties to rethink their campaign strategies.

"This is theory could have quite a impact if during the campaign, say the last week something fairly dramatic happens that turned people against the government or the opposition that affects proportion of people. That is probably fairly unlikely these days because most people are set in their ways and they know the issues being fought.

Peter Brent is a lecturer in politics at Swinburne University in Victoria.

He says it remains unclear, how the parties and the candidates are going to structure their campaigns to deal with the increase in early voting.

Mr Brent says in the past there was some predictability in who voted early, but this is changing.

"They traditionally favour the conservatives but because the nature of the early voter is changing with every election we can't really say whether that will maintain.  Certainly in the past a) you got postal voters out in the country and they are more likely to vote for conservative parties and b) people who are holidaying are more likely to vote right of centre. So it has traditionally favoured the conservative parties."

A list of national and overseas early voting centres will be available in the weeks after the election is announced.

Report by Peggy Giakoumelos      

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