Updating enrolment addresses online without the need to scan a copy of a signed enrolment form and email it, or send it via post, is sitting in the hands of the governor-general, Quentin Bryce.
New laws were passed in June to allow the process of changing addresses on the electoral roll to be updated, but the laws are currently waiting royal assent via the governor-general and are unlikely to be ready in time for the next federal election. The new laws will allow the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to accept enrolment address updates without the need for a signed form.
"When it comes to enrolling online, at present, we're actually bound by legislation to have a signed copy of a form returned to us," the AEC told ZDNet Australia yesterday. "That can happen through a scanned copy that can be emailed to us, faxed to us, posted to us or dropped into any [AEC] office. But there has been a Bill passed to parliament trying to change these requirements.
"There is potential for, in the near future, people to be able to update their enrolment online without having to hand something back. So we're looking at changing that."
It's understood that enrolling to vote — not just updating address details — would still require a copy of a form to be sent to the AEC.
"The overriding aim of the Pre-poll Voting and Other Measures Bill is to enhance the ability of otherwise eligible Australians to participate in the electoral process," Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig, said in a statement to ZDNet Australia yesterday.
"The Electoral Act currently contains a number of hurdles to facilitating modern and technologically up-to-date enrolment. This legislation will address enrolment rates and improve electoral participation by enabling flexible and modern interaction between eligible voters and the AEC."
Exactly when the governor-general will be able to sign off on the Bill is unknown, and with an election looming, it may not get done before it is called.
ZDNet Australia contacted the governor-general's spokesperson, requesting comment. At the time of publication, the spokesperson had not responded.
The AEC said that 1.4 million people are "missing" from the electoral roll — the majority being people aged between 18 and 19.