You only have until 8pm tonight to enrol to vote in the federal election


Eligible Australians have until 18 April to enrol to vote or update enrolments.

Australians have until 8pm Thursday to register for the 18 May federal election, and are being urged to check their enrolment details before it's too late.

As the clock ticks down, Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten are campaigning at opposite ends of the country.

The prime minister will campaign in Tasmania on Thursday, promising more than $25 million for the state's health services.

Time is running out to enrol to vote as both leaders hit the campaign trail.
Time is running out to enrol to vote as both leaders hit the campaign trail.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will spend the day in the Northern Territory, rounding out a week of health announcements of his own.

How to enrol

Australia is seeing the highest enrolment rates since Federation, with 96 per cent of eligible voters currently on the electoral roll compared with 90 per cent in 2010.

But the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) estimates almost 600,000 eligible voters are not on the roll.

Enrolling to vote at federal elections is compulsory for people who are more than 18 years old and are Australian citizens.

Although Evan Ekin-Smyth from the AEC said people should not assume they are automatically on the roll, just because they have recently turned 18, or become Australian citizens.

"Youth is always a little bit more under-enrolled than the rest of the population," he said.

Enrolment forms are available online on the AEC website, from any post office, or state electoral office. 

Bob Katter with his ballot papers in 2016.
Bob Katter with his ballot papers in 2016.

Update your details

Even if you've already enrolled, you're not necessarily set for election day.

Voters must be enrolled at their current address so they can vote for the candidates in their electorate, also known as electoral division, in the federal election.

"Every time you move, you must update your address on the electoral roll or your name could be removed and you will be unable to vote," AEC material says.

"You are eligible to enrol for your new address if you have lived there for at least one month."

As such, the AEC suggests double-checking you are on the roll.

Other Australians

Australian citizens working in Antarctica can enrol to vote but are not required to.

The homeless can vote if they can provide an address where they were last eligible to enrol, or where their next of kin is enrolled.

People serving a full-time prison sentence of less than three years can enrol and vote in federal elections and if the sentence is three years or longer, prisoners can remain on the roll but are not entitled to vote until they are released.

There are also options for people with special needs, or with specific circumstances who may need assistance.

Voting early

An increasing number of people are choosing to vote early at federal elections. But the AEC insists voters need to have a valid reason for choosing to do so.

Voters can either pre-poll vote via post or go to an early voting centre, starting from 29 April.

The AEC's Evan Ekin-Smyth said there are many options to vote regardless of where people are in the country.

"You do not have to be within your state. If you're travelling 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," he said.

Voters at Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club.
Voters at Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club.

"[Australia has] really good access in that regard. If you look at overseas elections, we're the world's best in terms of access to your vote. So if you can't make it on election day, there are 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.

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.

Travelling overseas?

For those travelling overseas, Mr Ekin-Smyth said there are also many options.

"If you are going to be overseas during the election, you can still vote. We offer nearly 90 overseas voting centres, in countries where there are a lot of Australian travellers or expats," he said.

"So if you can get down to one of those and cast a vote in person, that's fantastic. The other option available is postal voting ... You can jump online and apply for a postal vote."

The AEC's website is or people can phone the information line on 13 23 26.

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