Many people who turned up to cast their vote on Saturday were surprised to find out they were one of 240,000 West Australians that were not listed on the electoral roll, prompting the WA Electoral Commission to look to other states for a solution. WA Electoral Commissioner Warwick Gately said while the commission often contacted people at what were believed to be their new addresses, the onus was for voters to respond and provide their details so they could be enrolled. Some people simply chose not to turn up, despite voting being compulsory. Mr Gately said a solution which had been picked up in New South Wales, was to enrol people automatically as a result of change of address information supplied to government departments. For this to happen, legislative change is required.
“We would contact them and tell them that they will be enrolled at this new address unless they contact us within 28 days and then they go on the roll,” he said. About 25 per cent of voters change their address each year.
If departments had the information for those who turn 18 and had not yet enrolled, those people may then be able to be enrolled. According to the WAEC, those who are enrolled from a young age are more likely to take part on the election process.
People who miss three elections, whether they be federal or state, are less likely to engage in the process later in life, so if they are given every opportunity to participate early it would increase participation rates. Mr Gately said automatic enrolment would mean almost 100 per cent of eligible voters would be listed on the electoral roll.
He said he had broached the subject of enrolment with the government previously but was yet to see any action on the matter. At present it is believed that there are 240,000 West Australians not on the roll.
Full Article: Electoral Commission bids for change | Bunbury Mail.