Millions of Australians risk a $125 fine under a little-known election rule this weekend
- Failure to vote in local elections could cost you $125 in fines plus other penalties
- Australia is one of only 16 countries actively enforcing compulsory voting
- Voting will be more annoying this year with a list of Covid rules slowing it down
Australians can be fined up to $125 and their drivers license suspended for failing to vote in municipal elections.
New Covid procedures will also be imposed this year, making voting an even more tedious and time-consuming task that more people will want to avoid.
Voters will have to bring their own pens or throw away disposable pens, wear masks and longer queues at login and social distancing.
Elections will cost $57 million this year on December 4 in NSW as a result of Covid proceedings, which come ahead of the easing of restrictions on December 15.
Not voting could cost you up to $125 depending on the state you live in (stock image)
“We know that Covid-19 has prompted people to consider their voting options. Voter safety is paramount, as is ensuring that every eligible voter in NSW has an opportunity to have their voice heard,” said NSW Election Commissioner John Schmidt.
“All polling stations will be run in accordance with Covid safe election guidelines, including wearing of masks and physical distancing.
“Voters can bring their own pens and must check in with the Service NSW QR codes and follow any NSW Health advice.”
Each state has a different penalty for missing the vote, with most adding a second penalty depending on how long it takes you to respond.
The NSW Electoral Commission is fined $55 for failing to vote without a valid reason.
“If you fail to vote in a state or local government election and have no valid reason, you will be fined $55,” the rules read.
If you don’t respond to the first fine within 28 days, the NSW Electoral Commission will charge an additional $65, bringing the total to $120.
In some states, non-voters can lose their driver’s license if they don’t vote (stock image)
Australia is one of only 16 countries to actively enforce voting (stock image)
Countries with compulsory voting
- Argentina – voluntary if 16-18
- Bolivia – not enforced if 70+
- Brazil – voluntary if illiterate, aged 16-18 or 70+
- Ecuador – voluntary if 16-18 years or 65+
- Luxembourg – voluntary at 70+
- North Korea – only one candidate
- Peru – voluntary at 75+
- Switzerland – only in one canton
In Victoria, the initial fine for missing a vote is $81, increasing to $106.10 if the first fine is not paid within 28 days.
South Australia imposes a fine of $70, up to $125 at the risk of losing your driver’s license, having wages collected and assets frozen.
Western Australia has an initial fine of $20 for first-time offenders, which goes up to $50 for more, and failure to pay can result in license suspension.
Tasmania’s fine for skipping a vote is $20, which can be referred to the Monetary Penalty Enforcement Service, which can impose community service orders.
Missing state and federal elections could add up to an even bigger bill.
In 2016, Darwin man Frank Bost refused to vote on principle and went to court.
He pleaded guilty to violating the Commonwealth Electoral Act and was ordered to pay $308, including a fine, as well as the Australian Electoral Commission’s legal costs.
Something similar happened in 2016 with Tasmanian woman Emma Louise Pearce.
Ms Pearce did not vote in the 2016 federal election and was sued by Commonwealth prosecutors.
After telling the court she disagreed with the voting system she was affected with a $180 fine, legal fees, and a criminal conviction.
Australia is one of only 16 countries to actively enforce compulsory voting.