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How to Vote Before the Election Day 21st May 2022?

Postal vote counting in the WA electorate of Hasluck. Source: Getty

The early voting period will run for two weeks leading up to election day

Australians are soon heading to the polls to cast their vote in the federal election but many end up finalising their ballot early on in the process.

One university researcher says this is trend is becoming more popular and evidence from the Australian Electoral Commission backs this up. 

At this year's federal election, party leaders and potential candidates have been able to meet voters face to face and host events with fewer COVID-19 health restrictions in place.

These 'meet and greets', roundtables and other photo opportunities on the campaign trail can help attract media coverage and public interest before voters make up their mind about who to support.

The Australian Electoral Commission's Evan Ekin-Smyth says it's still unclear what choices voters will make as to how they early on they cast a ballot.

"It's an in-person community event after all. But early voting specifically, it has been rising in pretty much any jurisdiction around the world who offers it.  From election to election over the last ten or 15 years but perhaps not as much as people might expect it."

Early votes can be cast at pre-poll voting centre in person, or citizens can submit a postal vote. But Mr Ekin-Smyth says he expects most people to vote on site.

"Postal voting hasn't risen like early voting has. It has remained stable at about eight per cent of the population casting a postal vote at each election. It will probably go up this federal election due to COVID but I don't think it will be as dramatic an increase as some Australians might expect."

Pre-poll and postal votes can be lodged for individuals who are outside the division they are enrolled in, more than eight kilometres from a polling station or if they are unable to leave work.

Other reasons include people being unable to attend a polling place for religious reasons, if they are detained or have fears for their safety. Medical conditions and pregnancy can also be valid grounds to vote early.

But Adjunct Research Fellow at La Trobe University, Ian Tulloch says early voting changes the dynamics of the federal election campaign.

"In the past I'd say 20 years ago before early polling, the major parties would often make a major announcement in the last week of the campaign to try to tick over those last few votes, now they really have to make those announcements before early polling start." 

The early voting period will run for two weeks leading up to election day and more information is available online at the Australian Election Commission website https://www.aec.gov.au/voting/ways_to_vote/.

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