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Wednesday, 3 May 1961


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (2:00 AM) .- I move -

That the following new clause be inserted in the bill:- "11a. After section ninety-seven of the Principal Act the following Part is inserted: -

Part XIIa. - Voting by Persons Who are ILL, Infirm. Etc. 97a. - (1.) An elector whose place of living as appearing on the Roll for any Subdivision is situated not more than five miles by the nearest practicable route from each and every polling booth open in the State for which he is enrolled and who is seriously ill or infirm, and by reason of such illness or infirmity will be precluded from attending at any polling place to vote, or, in the case of a woman, will by approaching maternity be precluded from attending at any polling place to vote, may, if he has not already made an application under this section, in respect of the same election, and if he has not made application under section eighty-five of this Act for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper in respect of the same election, make application to record his vote under this section before an electoral visitor. (2.) (a) The Returning Officer for each Division shall, by writing under his hand, appoint in respect of each Subdivision into which his Division is divided, one and not more than one person to be the electoral visitor for that Subdivision for the purpose of taking votes under this section:

Provided that if circumstances so require, the Returning Officer may, with the written consent of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, appoint two or more persons to be electoral visitors in respect of any such Subdivision.

(b)   Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provisions of this sub-section the Returning Officer may, and shall if so directed by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, appoint as an electoral visitor a member of the Police Force. (3.) The Returning Officer shall provide each electoral visitor with a locked ballot box with a cleft or opening therein capable of receiving the ballot-papers

Before providing an electoral visitor with a ballot box, the Returning Officer shall take such steps as may be reasonably practicable to exhibit for ti; e inspection of the candidates or their representatives, the ballot box open and empty, and shall immediately afterwards close and lock the same, and deliver or cause it to be delivered to the electoral visitor.

Where such ballot box has been locked by the Returning Officer, the Returning Officer shall keep the key of the said box. (4.) An application to record a vote under this section (in this section referred to as an ' application ') shall contain a declaration setting out the grounds on which the applicant applies and shall be in or to the effect of the form prescribed and must be signed by the elector in his own handwriting in the presence of an elector, and must be made and sent after the tenth day prior to the issue of the writ for the election to which it relates to the Returning Officer for the district in respect of which the applicant is enrolled, and shall be made and sent so as to reach such Returning Officer nol less than seven days before the polling day for the election. (5.) If any application reaches the Returning Officer less than seven days before the polling day for the election, the implication shall be deemed to be invalid and the applicant shall not be entitled to vote under this section. (6.) The provisions of section eighty-seven of this Act and the provisions of section eighty-seven a of this Act shall, mutatis mutandis, apply to an application under this section in like manner as they apply to an application for a postal vote certificate and postal ballot-paper. (7.) The Returning Officer who receives the application, if he is satisfied that it is properly signed by the applicant elector, is properly witnessed and is otherwise completed, shall, if he has received the application not less than seven days before the polling day for the election, take steps as early as practicable to direct an electoral visitor for the Subdivision in respect of which the applicant is enrolled to visit the applicant for the purpose of taking the vote of the applicant. (8.) (a) As soon as practicable after an electoral visitor has received in relation to any election the first direction from the Returning Officer to visit any applicant or applicants under this section, the electoral visitor shall send by post a written notification of the fact to each candidate for the district at that election: and thereafter, at the request of any such candidate or of any scrutineer referred to in this section the electoral visitor shall as far as is reasonably practicable furnish such candidate or scrutineer with information as to the electors whom the electoral visitor proposes to visit, and the times and places at which l.e proposes to make such visits.

(b)   (i) Each candidate shall be entitled to appoint by writing under his hand scrutineers on his behalf at the taking of voles by electoral visitors under this section. Save as otherwise provided in this section such scrutineers shall be entitled to be present in the room or place in which a vote is to be taken under this section.

(ii)   The provisions of section one hundred and nine of this Act shall apply to and in respect of scrutineers appointed under sub-paragraph (i) of this paragraph. For the purposes of such application -

(a)   a reference to a ' polling booth ' shall be construed as a reference to the room or place in which the vote is being taken under this section;

(b)   a reference to ' polling ' shall be con strued as a reference to the period during which the vote of an elector is being taken under this section;

(c)   a reference to ' the presiding officer ' shall be construed as a reference to the electoral visitor.

(c)   Regulations made under this Act may prescribe the questions which an electoral visitor may put to an elector or which a scrutineer may request an electoral visitor to put to an elector when the vote of such elector is being taken under this section.

The voter's answer to any such question shall be conclusive. (9.) (a) All applications under this section received by a Returning Officer shall be kept by him.

(b)   All applications under this section shall be open to public inspection at all convenient times during office hours, from and including the third day after polling day until the election can be no longer questioned.

(c)   The Returning Officer shall in consecutive order number all applications received by him under this section. (10.) Every electoral visitor shall sign his name on the back of each ballot-paper issued by him under this section. The signature shall be placed in such a position as to be easily seen when the ballot-paper is folded so as to conceal the vote. (11.) The Returning Officer shall note or cause to be noted on the certified copies of the roll, the name of every elector for the taking of whose vote a direction has been issued to an electoral visitor by the Returning Officer. (12.) Every visit by an electoral visitor under this section shall be made at a reasonable hour during the daytime, and if the applicant is for any reason unable or unprepared to record his vote within one half hour after the electoral visitor hits indicated to the applicant or to any person in charge or apparently in charge of the applicant that he is available for the purpose of taking the applicant's vote, the electoral visitor may terminate his visit, and shall not be required to make a further visit under this section to such applicant in respect of the same election. (13.) An electoral visitor shall not visit any elector for the purpose of taking his vote under this section unless directed so to do by the Returning Officer, and it shall not be lawful for an electoral visitor to visit an elector for the purpose of taking the vote of such elector under this section at any place which is outside the Subdivision for which the electoral visitor is appointed. (14.) The following directions for regulating the talcing of votes by an electoral visitor are to be substantially observed: -

(a)   The electoral visitor shall issue to the elector a certificate printed on an envelope addressed to the Returning Officer for the Division and one ballotpaper.

(b)   The certificate shall be in or to the effect of the following form: -

I............................ of .................... (here insert place of living of voter as appearing on the roll) hereby certify that the signature of voter hereunder is my personal signature, written with my own hand. Signature of voter................. (in his or her own handwriting).

Signature of electoral visitor......... (in his or her own handwriting). The ballot-paper shall be in or to the effect of the form prescribed.

(c)   The elector shall then and there, in the presence of the electoral visitor, sign his name in his own handwriting on the certificate in the place provided for the signature of the voter. The electoral visitor shall countersign the said certificate as a witness in the place provided therefor, and shall add the date.

(d)   The elector shall then and there in the presence of the electoral visitor, but so that the electoral visitor cannot see the vote -

(i)   mark his vote on the ballot-paper in the manner directed on the ballot-paper;

(ii)   fold the ballot-paper so that the vote cannot be seen;

(iii)   place the ballot-paper in the envelope, addressed to the Returning Officer and fasten the envelope.

After the envelope has been fastened the elector shall forthwith place it or cause it to be placed in the ballot box provided by the electoral visitor.

(e)   If the elector's sight is so impaired that he cannot vote without assistance, a person appointed by the elector shall mark the elector's vote on the ballotpaper in the presence of the electoral visitor, and shall then and there fold the ballot-paper so that the vote cannot be seen, place it in the envelope addressed to the Returning Officer, . fasten the envelope, and place it in the ballot box:

Provided that if no person is appointed by the elector, the electoral visitor, if so requested by the elector, shall take the action required by this paragraph to be taken by a person appointed by the elector, and in taking such action shall mark the ballot-paper according to the instruction of the elector.

(f)   The electoral visitor shall not, unless the elector's sight is so impaired that he cannot vote without assistance and no person is appointed by the elector to mark his vote for him, look at or make himself acquainted with the vote given by the elector, and, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this sub-section, shall not suffer or permit any person (other than the elector) to see or become acquainted with the elector's vote or to assist the elector to vote or to interfere in any way with the elector in relation to his vote.

(g)   A vote may be taken under this section by an electoral visitor, at any time before six o'clock in the evening of polling day. (15.) Every electoral visitor shall -

(a)   comply with this section in so far as it is to be complied with on his part;

(b)   see that the directions in this section are complied with by every elector voting before him, and by every person present when the elector votes; and

(c)   refrain from disclosing any knowledge of the vote of any elector voting before him.

An electoral visitor shall not influence or attempt to influence, in any way, the vote of an elector voting before him. (16.) No person other than -

(a)   the elector to whom a ballot-paper has been issued under this section; or

(b)   a person appointed by the elector or an electoral visitor acting in pursuance of paragraph (e) or paragraph (f) of subsection fourteen of this section assisting an elector whose sight is so impaired that he cannot vote without assistance, shall mark a vote upon the ballot-paper. (17.) Each electoral visitor shall immediately after he has carried out the directions of the Returning Officer and the provisions of this section in relation to the taking of votes under this section deliver the ballot box or cause the same to be sent or transmitted to the Returning Officer. (18.) (a) No person other than the Returning Officer for the Division in respect of which a vote under this section has been taken or an officer acting under his directions shall open any ballot box delivered or sent to the Returning Officer under this section or any envelope contained in any such ballot box.

(b)   Any person to whom an application for a vote under this section is entrusted by an elector for the purpose of posting or delivery to a Returning Officer and who fails to post or deliver forthwith the application, shall be guilty of a contravention of this section. (19.) Any person present when an elector is before an electoral visitor for the purpose of voting under this section shall -

(a)   obey all directions of the electoral visitor; and

(b)   except as provided in paragraph (e) of sub-section fourteen of this section in the case of persons whose sight is impaired -

(i)   refrain from making any com munication whatever to the elector in relation to his vote;

(ii)   refrain from assisting the elector or in any manner interfering with him in relation to his vote; and

(iii)   refrain from looking at the elector's vote or from doing anything whereby he may become acquainted with the elector's vote. (20.) At the scrutiny the Returning Officer or the officer assisting him shall produce all applications for votes under this section and shall produce unopened all envelopes containing votes taken under this section received by him up to the end of the period of seven days immediately succeeding the close of the poll and shall -

(a)   compare the signature of the elector on each certificate signed by such elector under sub-section fourteen of this section with the signature of the same elector on the application, and allow the scrutineers to inspect both signatures;

(b)   if satisfied that the signature on the certifi cate is that of the elector who signed the application and that the signature purports to be witnessed by an electoral visitor and that the elector is enrolled for the Division, accept the ballot-paper for further scrutiny, but, if he is not so satisfied, disallow the ballot-paper without opening the envelope in which it is contained;

(c)   withdraw from the envelopes the ballot- papers contained therein and accepted for further scrutiny, and without inspecting or unfolding the ballot-papers or allowing any other person to do so, place them in a locked and sealed ballot box by themselves for further scrutiny;

(d)   seal up in separate parcels and preserve-

(i)   all envelopes bearing certificates relating to ballot-papers accepted for further scrutiny, and

(ii)   all unopened envelopes containing ballot-papers disallowed; and

(e)   proceed with the scrutiny of the ballot- papers which have been accepted for further scrutiny. (21.) A ballot-paper issued under this section shall not be informal because of any mistake in spelling, if the elector has made clear his intention. (22.) If an elector to whom a ballot-paper has been issued under this section satisfies the electoral visitor who issued the same that he has spoilt his ballot-paper by mistake or accident, he may on giving it up, receive a new ballot-paper from the electoral visitor who shall cancel and preserve the spoilt ballot-paper. (23.) Any person contravening any of the provisions of this section shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months.'.".

Acceptance of this amendment would give a seriously sick, infirm or pregnant person the right to a secret and private vote before an electoral visitor, accompanied, if desired, by scrutineers of candidates, in the sick, infirm or pregnant person's home, as an alternative procedure to the postal vote. In relation to the first postal vote amendment, it was sufficiently established, I believe, that the seriously sick, infirm and pregnant are not predominantly anti-Labour, although those who pole on them, or poll for them, generally are. This is not at all a contentious amendment. The proposal is based on the electoral visitor system which has obtained in New South Wales State elections for the last eleven years. The objections which were made to that system by some honorable gentlemen had no relation to the postal voting amendment previously proposed, insofar as it concerned absent or travelling voters, because they were not affected by that amendment. Nor did those objections have any relevance to the position of sick, infirm or pregnant persons enrolled more than five miles from a polling booth, because that amendment did not concern them. But this amendment is designed to provide an alternative procedure for the sick, infirm and pregnant persons.


Mr Killen - Is there any difference between this and your amendment to insert proposed new section 102a in relation to a mobile booth?


Mr WHITLAM - No, it is complementary to that. This amendment will enable a sick, infirm or pregnant person to cast a vote in his or her own home before an electoral visitor. The mobile booth will enable such a person to cast a vote in a hospital or infirmary at such a booth. In either case, the vote will be secret and private. It will be carried out by electoral officials. No reflection has been cast on their honesty by any person, nor has it been suggested that they are incapable of conducting elections in a proper manner, lt will give satisfaction to candidates in that scrutineers may accompany the electoral visitor. I apprehend that no objection can be made to this proposal. It is a completely optional one and I believe that it will give satisfaction to candidates, electoral authorities, and, above all, to persons who are sick in their homes and want to have a certain security, secrecy and privacy in casting their votes and so avoid the huckstering or pestering which inevitably accompanies the present procedure.







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