Australians who want to have their say in the upcoming same-sex marriage postal survey have until midnight Thursday to enrol.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said more than 50,000 people had registered since the postal survey was announced two weeks ago.
In the last federal election, more than 250,000 people aged between 18 and 24 were missing from the electoral roll.
￼Enrolled voters will begin receiving surveys on September 12, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which is overseeing the survey, says all forms will be mailed out by September 25.
The ABS “strongly encourages” people to send their surveys back by October 27.
The electoral roll has increased by 54,545 between 8 & 22 August. 577,879 total enrolment transactions processed in this timeframe #auspol
— AEC (@AusElectoralCom) August 23, 2017
Responses must be returned to the ABS by November 7.
The forms will contain the voluntary question: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”
Each ballot will have a unique code attached. The ABS said the code was not an identifier, that it would be collected separately to the results.
“This is a voluntary survey. Those who do share a view can be confident their response will be kept secret,” ABS’s deputy Australian statistician Jonathan Palmer said.
The result will be published by the ABS on November 15 and will include information on the gender and age breakdown, as well as how different state and federal electorates responded.
Some people will be entitled to a paperless option in the survey, potentially including people who are going overseas, those with a disability and people who live in remote communities and Indigenous town camps.
“You’ll have an option — you’ll be able to go online and request that,” Mr Palmer told the Senate committee.
The ABS has not yet confirmed who will be eligible for the paperless option, or exactly what that option will be.
What happens after the survey?
The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey — as it is formally known — is not necessarily make or break for same-sex marriage.
The Prime Minister has said he would vote yes in the survey and declared a bill to legalise same-sex marriage would “sail through Parliament” if most Australians backed the change.
But he also said he would not be facilitating a free vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage should the survey come back with a no.
Is the ABS equipped?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is risking another massive hit to its reputation by taking on an expedited postal vote on same-sex marriage.
But earlier this week, Coalition MP Warren Entsch said: “If it comes back no, I reserve my right as a Liberal to call on a vote.”
If same-sex marriage is defeated in this Parliament, Labor has said it would legalise it should it win the next federal election.
As Australians prepare to have their say, Mr Turnbull acknowledged people were likely to say things that are “hurtful, unfair and sometimes cruel”.
But rather than stifle free speech, Mr Turnbull said Australians should stand up for any friends and loved ones feeling distressed “at this challenging time”.
“This is a time to put your arms around them, to give them your love and support,” he told Southern Cross radio.
How to enrol
• You can put your name on the electoral roll or update your details on the AEC’s website
• There is also a dedicated phone line to help answer any questions: 1800 572 113