POLITICS

Postal Plebiscite: ABS Will Offer Aussies Overseas A 'Paperless Vote'

If you can't fill out your own form, you can also name a trusted person to help.

22/08/2017 6:30 PM AEST | Updated 22/08/2017 8:31 PM AEST

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) confirmed on Tuesday it will offer a paperless voting option for Australians wanting to have their say in the postal plebiscite on marriage equality but may also be "overseas or who cannot reasonably receive their material via post".

The ABS said in a statement that the paperless option will also extend to "Australians with blindness, low vision or [another] disability that makes the paper form a more difficult option, or those in residential aged care".

ABS Deputy Australian statistician Jonathan Palmer said the paperless option will be made available via a "secure access code" for an automated telephone service or secure online form, accessible via the ABS Information Line or the body's website between September 25 to October 20.

"In these circumstances, only those eligible Australians will be able to request a secure access code so they can provide an anonymous survey response through an automated telephone service, secure online form or via the Information Line," he said.

(NOTE: If you haven't already enrolled to vote or update your details, you have TWO more days before the cut-off at midnight on August 24)

As part of its increased accessibility options for the postal vote, the government statistics body also confirmed it would allow Australians who are unable to access their survey (for example, if they are overseas) or fill out a voting form on their own to elect a trusted person to help them complete it.

Additionally, a move to cater for Indigenous Australians and people experiencing homelessness will see public locations in capital cities, regional and remote locations around the country advertised on the ABS website as spots where Australians can "collect and/or return survey materials from or to an ABS officer".

"If a person cannot access their survey form (for example, if overseas), or complete their survey form independently, they can authorise another person they trust to assist them with their survey, or to complete the survey form on their behalf," the ABS statement said.

"In the scenario where someone completes a survey on someone else's behalf, the ABS expects that the eligible Australian would: specifically authorise that trusted person to open their Postal Survey envelope; and communicate their survey response to that trusted person so this can be accurately marked on the survey form.

"The trusted person would then seal the form in the reply paid envelope and post it back to the ABS. A person cannot self-declare themselves to be a trusted person for someone else."

The announcement comes as many young Australians voiced concerns that the rushed process and confusing nature of the postal plebiscite might see them miss out on an opportunity to have their say on the issue.

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