Graeme Innes, Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner, is among the 300,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision that may finally have a secret ballot in Federal Elections, thanks to changes to the Electoral Act that were tabled in Parliament today by the federal government.
"At the last Federal Election I voted in secret for the first time in my life," Commissioner Innes said. "However, that process was only a trial, with no ongoing commitment. These proposed changes will make secret ballots a permanent part of the voting process for me and many other Australians who are blind or have low vision."
The changes are included in amendments to the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Close of Rolls and Other Measures) Bill 2010 which were tabled in the Senate on behalf of Special Minister of State, Senator Joe Ludwig today.
If the changes are passed, they will allow the Electoral Commissioner to determine the method of secret ballot. For the next election, this will mean that electors who are blind or who have low vision will have the option of attending an AEC divisional office where they can be connected to trained call centre operators to complete the ballot papers.
"I'm an Australian who is proud of our democratic values and system," Commissioner Innes said. "It will be wonderful to be permanently and fully included in that democratic process, and not to have someone else complete my ballot paper."
Commissioner Innes congratulates the Government on this initiative and urges all political parties to support full inclusion for Australians who are blind or have low vision.
Media contact: Shyamla Eswaran (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529