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Arriving travellers in isolation to be able to vote by telephone

Sept 16, 2020 | Media release

Up to 5,000 people in managed isolation or quarantine will be able to vote by telephone in the general election and referendums after an amendment to electoral regulations last week.

Chief Electoral Officer Alicia Wright says the Electoral Commission sought the amendment after concluding dictation voting was the simplest way to collect votes from people in the country’s 32 managed isolation facilities.

“We looked at a range of options, but all of them involved more contact with individuals in isolation because of COVID-19. Dictation voting neatly avoids any contact risks.”

Until the passing of the Electoral Amendment Regulations (No 4) 2020 on 7 September, dictation voting could be offered only to the blind, people in remote locations overseas, and those physically unable to mark voting papers.

Alicia Wright says about 6,000 people are typically in managed isolation or quarantine facilities at any one time, but the Commission is planning on providing the service to 5,000, on the basis that about 20 per cent are likely to be either children or otherwise ineligible to vote.

The Commission will use existing staff and resources to provide the expanded dictation service, which will be available from 5 October till the end of voting on election day. Registration and voting hours will be between 9am and 7pm every day except election day. On election day, registrations will close at 5pm and voting at 7pm.

The Commission will provide interpreters for those who do not speak English and make individual arrangements for those who have a speech disability. Travellers without a mobile phone will be able to use a landline in their room.

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