Why it’s harder to enrol to vot

Gary Nairn gets the facts on electoral reform


Posted on the campaign blog , April 13th, 2007

It’s hard to see who wins from the changes to the Electoral Act, which effectively make it harder to vote. Surely a democracy is strengthened by the removal of obstacles that bar access to the ballot box. That’s why the key aim of the Electoral Act is to make it as convenient as possible for people to get on the electoral roll.

And in the absence of any evidence of widespread voter fraud, it is obvious both convenience of enrolment and the integrity of the electoral roll can be achieved at the same time. That’s why, around the world, many developed nations don’t close the rolls until right before the election. In that case, then who benefits from amendments that make it harder to get on the roll, especially for first-time voters? Well, according to the statistics indicating young people are more likely to vote progressive, the Coalition does.

Perhaps that explains Liberal MP Gary Nairn‘s vehement opposition to GetUp’s campaign. He has issued a press release accusing GetUp of "misinformation and lies" and stating that GetUp has "a strange habit of distorting the truth". Here are his claims:

That GetUp asserts that the roll will close as soon as an election is called.

GetUp has never made this assertion. The roll will close for new voters at 8pm on the very night the election is officially called – it is officially called when the writ is issued by the Governor General.

That GetUp claims that proof of identity will be needed when voting.

GetUp has never made this claim. Perhaps Mr Nairn is referring to the proof of identity that will now be needed to enrol to vote.

That GetUp asserts asking young people to provide ID when enrolling is too onerous a burden, and will serve to disenfranchise young first time voters.

People who have turned 18 since the last election and are not yet on the roll will have to enrol before 8pm on the day the writ is issued for the election. Last election, 78,816 new voters enrolled in the week after the writ was issued. Those who enrol before then will now have to either have an Australian Driver’s licence or, if using another form of ID, find an ‘authorised person’ (ie. a Justice of the Peace or other listed person) to verify their ID. If they have no form of ID they need two people who are on the electoral roll and have known them for more than a month to sign their form. This is more onerous than the current system.

That GetUp claims that the government moved by stealth to rush these laws through the parliament.

GetUp has not made this claim. The Government did not need to move by stealth to pass these laws because their Senate majority could, despite widespread opposition by experts and the other parties, rubber stamp it.


Mr Nairn’s claims against GetUp are not supported by any evidence. He argues that "[T]hese laws will protect the fundamental right to vote," but any inspection of them reveals the opposite to be true.

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