Thousands of Victorians cannot vote in this year’s state election because they have been deemed to have an “unsound mind”. You won’t find a definition for the term in either the federal Electoral Act or in any of its state and territory counterparts. But since the 2010 election, 7176 people have been removed from the state’s electoral roll for this reason, according to Australian Electoral Commission figures. Anyone who is eligible to vote can object to another person being on the roll if they believe they have an “unsound mind”. There are growing calls for the law around such objections to be scrapped to avoid discrimination. Victorian Electoral Commission spokeswoman, Sue Lang, said she was still receiving requests to remove people’s elderly relatives from the roll – usually people with dementia – days before the election.
While a medical certificate is not required under Victorian law to prove someone is of “unsound mind”, Ms Lang said the commission sent objectors a form on behalf of the Australian Electoral Commission in line with federal law.
This involved a registered medical practitioner declaring that they consider the person “is of unsound mind and incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting.”
The Australian Law Reform Commission this week recommended the “unsound mind” provision be repealed from the Commonwealth Electoral Act. State and territory governments should follow suit, it said, with 28,603 people removed nationally between 2008 and 2012.