The electoral roll closes at 8pm on Monday. Potential voters who have failed to enrol by then will not be able to vote on 2 July. As of March, the Australian Electoral Commission estimated that more than 900,000 people were “missing” from the roll – 6% of the eligible voting population. There are particularly large numbers of young voters missing from the rolls. While the AEC and other groups make a big effort to encourage young people to enrol, the rolls are closing long before most voters will engage with the election. It’s not surprising that many voters, particularly those voting for the first time, do not realise they need to enrol long befor polling day. At most elections, rolls close about four weeks before election day. This year’s longer campaign has stretched this period to six weeks.
In 2007, the Howard government pushed this deadline further away from election day. Under this Howard-era law, rolls closed at 8pm on the day the writs were issued. In practice, this often meant that rolls closed within hours of the election being called.
In 2010, GetUp brought a high court case challenging this law, and the seven-day time period was restored [disclosure: I am employed by GetUp].
Efforts to restrict enrolment have been justified by conservative governments as voter fraud prevention. But there is minimal evidence that in-person voter fraud or enrolment fraud is a problem, while there is substantial evidence that imposing restrictions on enrolment reduces the number of Australians who can vote. There are a large number of cases of voters casting multiple votes, but these cases are mostly errors, and would not be solved by restrictions on enrolling.