The Coalition’s continuing tactics of throwing up roadblocks against ‘direct enrolment’ reforms to boost the number of people on the voting roll is disappointing but not surprising, said Australian Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon.
The Electoral Amendment (Improving Electoral Administration) Bill 2011 passed the Senate late today with the support of the Greens. The bill supports direct enrolment reforms by allowing the Australian Electoral Commission to use information from the Australian Tax Office to automatically enrol new voters and update existing enrolments.
“Voting in elections is the basis of our democracy and as MPs we have a responsibility to ensure that as many people who are eligible to vote are on the electoral roll. It is a cynical move by the Coalition to oppose direct enrolment”, said Senator Rhiannon.
“The proportion of people on the electoral roll has fallen in recent years, from 95 per cent a decade ago to around 90 per cent today. This means that about one and a half million eligible Australians are not enrolled to vote.
“For younger people, homeless people or people newly arrived in Australia, the figures are much worse. Among 18 year olds the enrolment rate is only 52 per cent, according to the Australian National Audit Office.
“The Coalition is not a new-comer to disenfranchising voters. The Howard government tried to restrict voting rights for prisoners and take away the seven-day grace period for people to enroll after the election writs are issued.
“The Coalition’s lack of interest in increasing voter participation from these groups is revealing. It is hard to find any other reason for the Coalition’s blocking tactics other than that they can’t see the benefit at the ballot box” said Senator Rhiannon.