News Politics Australian Politics Federal Election 2022 COVID patients get phone voting option

COVID patients get phone voting option

COVID election voting AEC
Emergency telephone voting options will be available for COVID-affected voters from Wednesday. Photo: AAP
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Telephone voting for the federal election will be available for voters who test positive for COVID-19 from 6.01pm on Tuesday.

Rules have been introduced allowing people in isolation to cast their vote over the phone.

The Australian Electoral Commission said while people would be able to register online to vote via phone from 6.01pm on Wednesday, the service won’t be available to take votes until Thursday.

The AEC said this was an emergency measure that should be undertaken only as a last resort.

“Telephone voting should only be a last resort. Prior to this date, voters who are isolating due to coronavirus can apply for a postal ballot,” the commission said.

For those who are eligible, there are a few steps for casting votes over the phone.

Voters must register on the AEC website, providing personal details and evidence of being a coronavirus-affected voter.

They must declare they have not already voted, and have been required to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. Voters will choose a PIN and be provided with a registration number.

The voter must then call the call centre when telephone voting becomes available for them.

The call centre operator will undertake security checks and will mark the ballot paper in accordance with the voter’s instructions.

The ballot paper is placed in an envelope with the voter’s electorate, and the time and date on which the vote was cast.

The voter’s name will not be put on the envelope or given to the phone operator, ensuring a secret ballot.

The envelopes are sorted and forwarded to the appropriate division to be counted four days after polling day.

Results of telephone votes are published in a separate vote collection point, effectively counting as their own polling place.

Telephone voting is usually available only to voters who are blind or have low vision.

Electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said it would not become an “alternative channel” for voting, but rather catered for a narrow group of voters.

The Parliamentary Library estimates that about 80,000 voters might be eligible for telephone voting over the three days in which it is available.