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Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Bill 2018

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2016-2017-2018

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL AMENDMENT (LOWERING VOTING AGE AND INCREASING VOTER PARTICIPATION) BILL 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Jordon Steele-John)



COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL AMENDMENT (LOWERING VOTING AGE AND INCREASING VOTER PARTICIPATION) BILL 2018

 

Overview of Bill

 

This Bill includes amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 .

 

The changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 are intended to lower the minimum age of a voter in Australian federal elections and referenda from 18 to 16 years of age, while keeping the minimum age of compulsory voting and eligibility to stand as a federal parliamentarian at 18 years of age. The changes also allow 14 and 15 year olds to be added to the electoral roll in preparation for their eligibility to vote at 16 years of age.

 

The changes to the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 are intended to ensure that the Electoral Commissioner includes 16 and 17 year olds in the certified list of voters and that 16 and 17 year olds will not be given a penalty notice if they do not vote.

 

The Bill also provides that Australians who are eligible to vote, but who are not yet on the electoral roll or are not enrolled at their correct address, can enrol to vote or update their address at a polling centre on election day, or at an early voting centre, and will be deemed to be enrolled at that address and eligible to cast a provisional vote at that time.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1 - Short Title

This clause provides for the Bill, when enacted, to be cited as the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Act 2018

Clause 2 - Commencement

This clause provides that the whole of the Act commences on the day the Act receives the Royal Assent.

Clause 3 - Schedules

Each Act specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as is set out in the applicable items in the Schedule.  Any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.



 

Schedule 1 - Amendments

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

Items 1, 12 and 13 - Enrolment Age

1.                   Items 1, 12, and 13 serve to lower the enrolment age from 16 to 14, by omitting “age 16” and substituting “age 14” in subsections 4(3), 98(1) and 98(3).

Items 2 to 11, 17, 18 and 23 - Voting Age

2.                   Items 2-11 serve to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, by omitting “age 18” and substituting “age 16” in paragraph 55(2)(b), subsection 90B(10),  paragraphs 93(1)(a) and 93(3)(b), subsection 93(4), paragraphs 95(1)(c) and (f) and 95(6)(a) and (b), subsection 95(7), and paragraphs,95(8)(a) and 95(13)(e). Items 17, 18 and 23 omit “18” and substitute “16” in paragraph 100(1)(b), subsection 100(2), and paragraph 208(2)(b).

Item 14 - Election Day Enrolment Claim

3.                   Item 14 adds subsection (6) at the end of section 98, which provides that a provisional vote by a person who is entitled to enrolment, but is not currently enrolled, shall qualify as a claim to enrolment.

Items 15, 16, 20 to 22, 29 and 30 - Age 14 Enrolment

4.                   Item 15 repeals the heading “Claims for age 16 enrolment” and substitutes “Claims for age 14 enrolment” in section 100 (heading).

5.                   Item 16 omits “has turned 16, but is under 18, years of age” and substitutes “has turned 14, but is under 16, years of age” in paragraph 100(1)(a).

6.                   Items 20-22 and 29-30 serve to lower the enrolment age from 16 to 14, by omitting “16” and substituting “14” in subsection 120(2)(table item 4), paragraphs 108(a) and 121(1)(c), section 342 and subsection 343(1).

Items 19, 24 and 25 - Election Day Enrolment

7.                   Item 19 adds subsection (5A) at the end of section 102. Subsection (5A) provides that if a claim under section 101 is made on the polling day for an election, then, despite subsection (4): the claim must be regarded as having been received before the start of the suspension period; and if the claimant’s name is entered on the Roll in accordance with the claim, the enrolment must, in relation to any vote recorded by the claimant in an election, be regarded as having been effected before the start of the suspension period.

8.                   Item 24 adds paragraph (f) at the end of subsection 235(1). Paragraph (f) means that an elector claiming for enrolment on the polling day for an election can cast a provisional vote.

9.                   Item 25 adds subsection (3A) in section 235. Subsection (3A) provides that an elector claiming for enrolment of polling day must present a claim for enrolment in accordance with section 101 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 ; and prescribes the evidence as to the person’s identity that the elector must present.

Items 26 to 28 - Optional Voting for Persons Aged 16 and 17

10.               Item 26 adds subsection (1A) to section 245. Subsection (1A) means that an elector who is 16 or 17 years of age on the polling day for an election does not have a duty to vote in each election.

11.               Item 27 adds paragraph (e) at the end of subsection 245(4). paragraph (e) means that the Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) is not required to send or deliver a penalty notice if the elector is 16 or 17 years old.

12.                Item 28 adds a note that clarifies that a person who is 16 or 17 years old is exempt from committing an offence under subsection 245(15).

Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984

Item 31 - Voting Age

13.               Items 31 omits “18 years old” and substitutes “16 years old” in paragraph 22(2)(b). This item means that a person who is at least 16 years old and who fulfils the requirements in paragraphs (2)(a) and (2)(c) should have their name included on the list of voters.

Items 32 and 33 - Referendum Day Enrolment

14.               Item 32 adds paragraph (f) at the end of subsection 37(1). Paragraph (f) provides that section 37(1) applies to a person who makes a claim for enrolment on the polling day for a referendum.

15.               Item 33 adds subsection (3A) in section 37. Subsection (3A) provides that a person who makes a claim for enrolment on the polling day for a referendum must present a claim for enrolment in accordance with section 101 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 ; and evidence as to the person’s identity.

Items 34 to 36 - Optional Voting for Persons Aged 16 or 17

16.               Item 34 adds subsection (1A) in section 45. Subsection (1A) means that an elector who is 16 or 17 years of age on the polling day of a referendum does not have the duty to vote at that referendum.

17.               Item 35 adds paragraph (e) at the end of subsection 45(4). Paragraph (e) means that the DRO is not required to send or deliver a penalty notice pursuant to subsection 45(3) if he or she is satisfied that the elector is 16 or 17 years of age on the day of the referendum.

18.               Item 36 adds a note at the end of subsection 45(14) which clarifies that an elector who is 16 and 17 years old and who fails to vote at a referendum is exempt from committing an offence under subsection (14).



6.                    

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Lowering Voting Age and Increasing Voter Participation) Bill 2018

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Bill

The Bill has the effect of lowering the minimum age of a voter in Australian federal elections and referenda from 18 years to 16 years of age, while keeping the minimum age of compulsory voting and eligibility to stand as a federal parliamentarian at 18 years of age. The changes also allow 14 and 15 year olds to be added to the electoral roll in preparation for their eligibility to vote at 16 years of age.

The Bill ensures that the Electoral Commissioner includes 16 and 17 year olds in the certified list of voters and that 16 and 17 year olds will not be given a penalty notice if they do not vote.

The Bill also provides that Australians who are eligible to vote but who are not yet on the electoral roll or are not enrolled at their correct address, can enrol to vote or update their address at a polling centre on election day, or at an early voting centre, and will be deemed to be enrolled at that address and eligible to cast a provisional vote at that time.

Human rights implications

This Bill engages human rights. The following human rights are promoted by this Bill:

ยท          Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that every citizen shall have the right and opportunity to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

By extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds and allowing citizens to enrol on election day and cast a provisional vote, this Bill will allow a greater number of Australian citizens’ the opportunity to participate in elections and the Parliament will represent a larger share of Australian citizens.

Conclusion

This Bill does not raise any issues with the human rights recognised in the international instruments referred to in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Senator Steele-John