It’s official: Australia will have a Federal Election on 21 May.
Here is everything you need to know about what you have to do.
STEP 1: ENROL
You may have to enrol to vote if you have never done so before. To check your enrolment and to enrol if you need to, go to aec.gov.au/enrol
You will need a driver’s licence, a passport, or the confirmation of somebody who has already enrolled.
You must be 18 to vote, but you can get ready early if you’re 16 or 17 (ready for the next election!)
You have 7 days to do this.
STEP 2: CHECK MY ADDRESS
If you’ve changed your address since the last time you voted, you need to update your details. To do this (or to double check), go to aec.gov.au/enrol and click ‘Update your details on the electoral roll’.
You have 7 days to do this.
STEP 3: UNDERSTAND YOUR OPTIONS
We each have two jobs.
The first job: Elect a local representative for our area (our electorate). This representative gets a seat in the House of Representatives. Whichever party can control a majority of the 151 seats forms Government and the leader becomes the Prime Minister, so this vote helps to determine who the Government will be.
The second job: Elect representatives for our state or territory in the Senate. Each state will elect six Senators and each territory will elect two. The Senate doesn’t affect who forms Government, but it does affect whether the Government will have an easy or a difficult time enacting its policies.
To find out which electorate you are in, search your address at electorate.aec.gov.au
The candidates are not finalised yet, but we’ll show you where to find them when they are.
STEP 4: UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
Voting for your local representative: we have a preference system for electing local representatives. You will need to rank every candidate from first to last. The order matters, not just who you choose to put first. If your #1 candidate doesn’t get enough votes, they will be eliminated and your vote will go to #2. Your vote will eventually go to one of the top two candidates, whichever one you put first. So decide on a full order.
Voting for the Senate is more complicated. There are two different ways you can vote: you can vote by party, in which case you need to pick at least a top 6 (this is called voting ‘above the line’, referring to the line you will see on your ballot paper). Or you can vote by individual candidate, in which case you need to pick at least a top 12 (this is called voting ‘below the line’).
STEP 5: VOTE
You can vote at a polling station on election day (often at primary schools or community venues). It’s easiest if you vote somewhere in your local area, but wherever you are the election officials should be able to make sure you are voting for the right electorate. You can even vote if you are overseas!
If you are working on election day, or if you’re just eager, you can vote early or vote by mail. We will post again about how to do this when early voting opens.