By Carley Hitchins


I’m only here for the democracy sausage

If you needed more of an incentive than a democracy sausage to vote tomorrow, unless you have a ‘valid and sufficient’ reason, a failure to vote in a federal election can result in a fine of up to $210.00.

While valid and sufficient circumstances are assessed on the merits of each individual case, in Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 CLR 380, the High Court gave some practical examples of what would be regarded as valid and sufficient 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.[1]

At first instance, an elector who fails to vote is sent a penalty notice at which time they are afforded the opportunity to advise of any valid and sufficient reasons for not voting or pay an administrative penalty of $20.

If the elector pays the $20 administrative penalty for failing to vote within the prescribed time, then no further action is taken by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Where an elector fails to pay the administrative penalty of $20 or fails to prove they had a valid and sufficient reason for not voting, an elector will most likely be taken to Court and could end up being convicted and fined $210.00. The court may also order the elector to pay an amount for costs.

FYI– if you would like to know which polling locations will have democracy sausages available and/or cake stalls, see below:

[1] Judd v McKeon (1926) 38 CLR 380.