With the Australian Federal Election looming sometime in the next few weeks or months it’s important that we take a moment to work out… how do I vote from America in the Australian Federal Election 2021/2022 and do I have to!? It might seem a bit premature to jump in and work out how to take care of this, but trust me, the process can be slow and difficult and it’s easier to get started earlier.

This is all relatively painless, so let’s go through what’s required of you as an Australian Citizen (I’m assuming at least that much if you’ve got this far into this post!

The first thing you should know is that the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) website is really good. So you should definitely go there and read up. But I’ve tried to distill the essentials below!

The second (really important) thing you must know is that if you’re not already enrolled to vote overseas, then you must do that before the close of rolls. This date has not yet been announced, but when the election is called a timer will start and you have limited time to get on in.

Do I have to vote in Australian elections from overseas?

A good question to start on, and as always with articles at America Josh, it depends.

The AEC says:

If you are overseas and are intending to return to Australia within six years you can register as an overseas elector.

First, you have to think about that and whether you are intending to return to Australia within six years! If you are not intending to return then you should fill out an “Overseas notification form” (and select the second option) and it means:

Your name will be removed from the electoral roll and you will not be able to vote in any federal elections held while you are overseas. Should you return to Australia to live permanently, you may re-enrol after you have been at your residential address for a period of one month.

So, if you are intending to return within six years the next question is whether you are already enrolled to vote or not (to find out, keep scrolling), from the AEC, again:

If you are already enrolled, you can apply up to three months before, or within three years after, you leave Australia.

To do this, you just need to fill in this form, to register as an “overseas elector” which will mean that you will be sent a postal vote.

If you are not enrolled, and have been overseas for less than three years, you may still be eligible to enrol if you are:

  • an Australian citizen aged 18 years or older, and
  • intending to return to Australia within six years.

To apply for enrollment from overseas, you need to fill in this form. You must do this before April 18 (6:30am) New York Time (April 18 in Australia) which is the “close of rolls”!

Do I have to be enrolled to vote overseas in Australia to vote overseas?

Nope. You can go straight to the local Consulate and vote even if you’re not properly registered to vote overseas.

You just need to be enrolled at all.

How to find out whether you’re enrolled to vote in Australia

To find out whether you are already enrolled to vote (at your previous Australian address, if you haven’t already notified the AEC), you can head to “Check my enrollment” on the AEC’s website, put in your old Australian address and find out!

If you are enrolled, you really have to make sure you do the above to make sure you avoid any penalties.

Can you register to vote overseas if you (or your children) just turned 18?

They can register to vote too!

If you are the child of a person who is registered as an overseas elector you can enrol and vote in federal elections if you:

  • have never been enrolled
  • are an Australian citizen
  • are 18 years or older and had not turned 18 before leaving Australia, and
  • intend to return to live in Australia within six years after your 18th birthday.

They just need to fill out a form to Enrol to vote as the spouse, de facto partner or child of an overseas elector for federal elections.

How to vote in Australian elections while in America

If you’d like to vote in person (for New York, keep reading below), check out the AEC’s list of “Planned Overseas Voting Centres to offer in-person voting at the upcoming election” (which will become active when the election is called).

If you’ve done all the steps above, you will also be posted a postal vote, and you can fill that in and send it back within the time they’ve specified.

Sadly, you can’t (yet) vote online.

How and where to vote in New York City

The Australian Consulate-General in New York (Midtown) will likely be offering in-person voting for the 2021/2022 Australian federal election. Members of the public must provide photo ID in order to gain access to the Consulate. An ID is not required to vote.

If you are enrolled to vote, you an vote at the Consulate. You do not have to be registered to vote overseas!