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But this year is not a normal election. There’s a pesky global pandemic hanging around, and not everyone will be able to leave their house to cast their vote.
So how do you vote if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19? Here’s everything we know.
Help! I’m positive right now for COVID-19 and will still be in isolation come Saturday May 21. How can I vote?
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is leaving postal vote applications open until 6pm Wednesday 18 May.
Once the AEC has confirmed the receipt of of your application, it will send you a voting pack in the mail where you can fill out ballot papers at home.
What if I test positive between Wednesday and Saturday?
You’ll be able to vote over the phone – but the AEC has stressed that this is an “emergency measure” that should only be used as a last resort.
In fact the AEC has stressed the “last resort” point by not releasing the details of how telephone voting will work until the postal voting period has closed (6pm tomorrow night).
“People who test positive to COVID-19 from mid-week onwards, who haven’t already voted, and have missed the postal vote application deadline, will be able to access a telephone vote,” the AEC said.
“Information about the telephone voting service will be available to voters who need it once postal vote applications close.”
Voting over the phone – is that legal? Why can’t we just do it online?
Electoral laws are not to be taken lightly.
Given the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific legislation was passed in mid-February that allowed for people in isolation to legally submit their vote over the phone.
The service is usually only open to vision-impaired voters or Australians in Antarctica.
Those same electoral laws do not allow for online voting, primarily due to security concerns.
I’m not in isolation and plan to vote in-person on Saturday, but I’m immunocompromised and worried about the COVID-19 risk of having so many people jammed into a school hall. Is this a legitimate concern?
Your health is always a legitimate concern.
The AEC has pretty rigorous COVID-19 protocols in place for voting – much more so than what you would find down at your local shops.
At every voting centre there will be specific officials sanitising all surfaces and all pencils used to vote.
All polling staff will be wearing masks and have provided proof of their vaccination status to be employed.
Queues outside the polling centre will be socially distanced and there will be capacity limits inside all venues. Voting booths will likely be spaced so you’re not standing right next to someone.
Voters themselves will not need to wear masks, depending on their local state or territory restrictions.
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