If you don't plan on voting today, you can expect a letter from the AEC asking why. Picture: iStock
If you don't plan on voting today, you can expect a letter from the AEC asking why. Picture: iStock

Penalty for not voting in the election

Not too keen on ScoMo or Shorten? Those opting out of a vote today could cop a fine instead.

Despite there being more than 16.3 million people registered to vote in Australia, every vote counts. Failing to cast your vote by 6pm tonight will incur a $20 fine, according to the Australia Electoral Commission.

Given that voting is compulsory in Australia (as of 1924), non-voters are issued with a notice and a fine for failing to meet their legal requirement.

Failing to vote without a valid and sufficient reason is an offence under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

The options are then limited: pay the fine or provide a valid reason why you failed to vote.

Voters at Northmead Public School have their say. Picture: AAP Image/Angelo Velardo
Voters at Northmead Public School have their say. Picture: AAP Image/Angelo Velardo

Permissible reasons not to vote can be on account of illness, having to save a life, natural disasters or car crashes are all considered valid reasons for not voting.

The legitimacy of your reason will be judged by an AEC official, whose decision will reach you within a month or two.

But be warned: things can escalate if you fail to follow AEC procedures.

"If, within the time period specified on the notice, you fail to reply, cannot provide a valid and sufficient reason or decline to pay the $20 penalty, then the matter may be referred to a court," the website reads.

If long queues, throngs of people and intermittent pitches from eager volunteers aren't your thing, you may want to vote early when the next election day rolls around. That way your only concern will be snagging a democracy sausage before they run out.


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