$222 fine and a court date: What can happen if you don’t vote

·2-min read
A person holding Australian $50 notes to signify the amount someone may have to pay in a fine and people line up at a centre to vote.
Aussies who fail to vote in the federal election will face fines. (Source: Getty)

Australians are heading to the polls to vote for who they want to lead the country but those who forget, or refuse, could face a major fine.

Failing to vote could see you cop a $20 penalty from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), but refusing to pay could land you in court.

A spokesperson from the AEC told Yahoo Finance that failing to pay the $20 penalty could see the matter land in front of a judge and, without a valid excuse, you could be hit with a $222 fine plus court fees.

What if I can’t vote in person?

The AEC has extended telephone voting options for those who can’t go into a polling centre due to having a positive COVID-19 test.

Telephone voting has been in place for some time as an option for those who are blind or have vision problems.

If you are COVID-19 positive and in isolation on election day, you can register for a secure telephone vote.

You must register by 4:00pm AEST Saturday, May 21 (election day). Telephone voting lines will remain open until 6:00pm local time on Saturday.

Here is the information you need for telephone voting in the 2022 federal election.

Other reasons for not voting

It is at the discretion of the AEC’s Divisional Returning Officer (DRO) for each electorate to determine whether you have provided a valid and sufficient reason for not voting.

The DRO will consider the merits of your individual case and take into account any specific circumstances at the polling places within their division in making a determination.

However, the High Court gave some examples of valid reasons for not voting:

Physical obstruction, whether of sickness or outside prevention, or of natural events, or accident of any kind, would certainly be recognised by law in such a case.

One might also imagine cases where an intending voter on his way to the poll was diverted to save life, or to prevent crime, or to assist at some great disaster, such as a fire: in all of which cases, in my opinion, the law would recognise the competitive claims of public duty.

Another valid reason would be if a voter felt they had a religious duty to abstain from voting.

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