Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

New arrangements for blind and vision impaired electors

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, Cabinet Secretary Special Minister of State and Senator for Queensland

Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig, today announced new measures providing a legal framework for blind and vision impaired electors to cast a vote at the next federal election.

The Rudd Government will move amendments to the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Close of Rolls and Other Measures) Bill 2010 giving blind voters the legal option of casting a secret vote.

“The Government’s priority is to reform Australia’s electoral system to remove barriers that prevent people from casting their vote,” Senator Ludwig said.

“We have been working on viable and sustainable options for secret and independent voting arrangements to enable vision impaired voters to participate in the electoral process.”

“The Government’s amendments will ensure suitable arrangements can be put in place in time for the next federal election while longer term solutions continue to be developed.”

The amendments will allow electors who are blind or who have low vision to have the option of attending an AEC divisional office where they can be connected to two trained call centre operators to complete the ballot papers.

“The right to vote in a secret ballot has been part of Australian democracy for over a century,” Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten, said.

“We need to make sure there are no unnecessary barriers preventing any Australian from exercising their right to vote.”

“The Government’s amendments will seek to deal with some of the challenges which currently confront people with low vision from casting their ballot.”

“This interim measure will be reviewed after the election, and the Australian Government will work to improve the system for voters with impaired vision in future elections.”

The Australian Government is developing a National Disability Strategy through consultation with the community and disability groups. The strategy will be a long-term plan to address the barriers faced by Australians with disability and promote their inclusion in society.