Only four days before the Australian Federal Election 2013, but there are still important announcements to take note of.
For Homeless Voters
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) urged homeless voters to cast their votes at mobile polling centre designated to specific areas. The commission is targeting 120 homeless voters to cast their votes at any WA community centre before Sep 7, Saturday.
Homeless voters from Perth were given the first opportunity to try out this voting scheme with three mobile polling booths set up at three Perth community centres.
In Perth alone, there were 13,000 people living in the streets.
Under the homeless voting scheme, the homeless voters can have their votes counted from their last known address, the place where they grew up or to the electorate where their community centre was located.
In an interview with ABC News, Karl Smith, homeless since six months ago for losing his job, said that even without a permanent address, it is important for him to vote.
"It all makes a difference in the end and it's all going to make a difference on the way the future goes so I guess it's quite important that everyone has a say," Mr Smith said.
According to Brendon Barlow of AEC, the homeless voting scheme had already been successful with 57 people who cast their votes at St Patrick's community centre.
"Prior to this we hadn't done anything in this sort of area before so this really is a first for WA in how we engage with the homeless community. Certainly we have a problem with making sure they're entitled to vote so we've got a program in place where they can actually enrol with no fixed address and we've tried to make sure that's become widely available and known to people in these sorts of environments, Mr Barlow said.
Michael Piu, chief executive of St Patrick's, was impressed about the scheme.
"This is a safe place for them it's non-judgemental, it's probably the one place some of our clients would ever consider exercising their right to vote. I've seen cases of clients with mental health [problems] that really find the system confounding and they were helped through the process and they were given voice so yes, it's a wonderful program and a great change for the better," Mr Piu said.
Bilingual Voter Information Officers to be Deployed
AEC announced that they will be deploying bilingual voter information officers to help cross cultural and linguistic barriers with voters from diverse backgrounds.
Electoral Commissioner, Ed Killesteyn, said that all voters should understand the electoral process thoroughly so that votes will not be wasted.
"Services to assist voters from a culturally and linguistically diverse background are an important part of the AEC's effort to ensure every eligible Australian has the opportunity to have their vote counted in the federal election. This involves having access to information in language so that people from non-English speaking backgrounds can understand when, where and how to vote," Mr Killesteyn explained
" Translations of the AEC's official guide to the 2013 federal election, as well as a 'How to make your vote count' factsheet, are available in 26 languages. Specifically, we've looked at where there are polling places and communities that have had a very high level of informal votes at the last election, where the provision of bilingual information officers could assist. To date, the AEC has held 95 education workshops in communities with a large number of people from non-English speaking backgrounds, to increase voter knowledge and address the rate of informality," he added.
The bilingual voter information officers will wear badges and will be holding posters to indicate the language they will be speaking.
Postal Voters Reminded of the Nearing Deadline
For those who opted to cast their votes through postal voting, Mr Killesteyn remind them that they should complete their ballots, sign the envelope, have it witnessed and have it mailed before Saturday, Sep 7.
"If you need a postal vote, don't leave it to the very last minute and risk missing out. It's likely that for some locations it could already be too late for the AEC to get ballot papers to you, despite our best efforts, and you may need to consider the option of a pre-poll vote in person rather than postal voting. If voting by post is your only option, you can complete a postal vote application form online, pick up a form at any Australia Post outlet or AEC office, or call 13 23 26 to have an application form sent to you," Mr Killesteyn urged.
To contact the editor, e-mail: