Opinion Number. 157

Subject

ELECTIONS WHETHER COMMONWEALTH HAS POWER BY REGULATION TO EXTEND FACILITIES FOR VOTING FOR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Author
Key Legislation

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ACT 1902. ss. 138.139

Date
Client
The Minister for Home Affairs

The Minister for Home Affairs:

The Chief Electoral Officer has asked for an opinion whether additional facilities may be provided by regulation to enable electors to vote at elections for members of the House of Representatives outside the Divisions for which they are enrolled.

The Minister for Home Affairs has referred the matter to me for advice.

Section 138 of the Electoral Act provides that an elector is only entitled to vote for the Division in which he lives and for which he is enrolled.

Section 139 sub-section (1) provides that an elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled but that if he is absent from that polling place he may vote at any other polling place for the same Division in an election for the House of Representatives if he makes and signs before the presiding officer a declaration in the form Q in the Schedule.

Sub-section (3) of the latter section provides that the Regulations under the Act may provide facilities for enabling electors to vote at elections for the Senate or for the House of Representatives at other polling places within the State.

It is clear that the facilities to be provided under sub-section (3) are in addition to those provided by sub-section (1).

The facilities to be provided must not be inconsistent with the Act; and therefore (for instance) an elector in Division A could not be empowered to vote for a member for Division B but there is nothing in the Act to prevent his being empowered to vote in Division B for a member for Division A.

My opinion is that the Act permits facilities to be provided which will enable electors to vote outside the Divisions in which they live but their votes can only be counted in those Divisions.

[Vol. 4, p. 39]