So what happens when you don't vote in Australia?

by icer101 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • icer101

    Hello all,

    This is my first post, and to be honest, the main reason why I signed up here was to ask this very question:

    "What happens when a Jehova's Witness doesn't vote in Australia? Do they get fined? Or is there a way around it? If so, what exactly is it?"

    You see, I am in a fix... I don't believe in the system to deem it credible for it to be voted for. As I am not a Jehova's Witness, but have learnt that they too abstain from voting, I thought I could learn what the process is?

    I appreciate all helpful replies, from now :D


  • blondie

    What happens if I do not vote?

    Initially the Australian Electoral Commission will write to all apparent non-voters requesting that they either provide a reason for their failure to vote or pay a $20 penalty.

    If, within 21 days, the apparent non-voter fails to reply, cannot provide a valid and sufficient reason or declines to pay the penalty, then prosecution proceedings may be instigated. If the matter is dealt with in court and the person is found guilty, he or she may be fined up to $50 plus court costs.

  • icer101

    Thank you for your swift reply blondie :D

    So then there is absolutely no way around not voting, other than paying the fine associated with it?

    I would have thought that there would be some sort of leniency towards people that did not vote based on religious conviction/doctrine.

    No offence blondie, however, I would prefer an Australian that lives in Australia, that is in this situation to answer. Unless of course you absolutely know for certain that this is the case, and that there are no round-about ways around this dilemma?

    In all honesty, I thought there was a kind of amnesty for people in such a scenario...


  • blondie

    "provide a reason for their failure to vote"

    If you look at the website I posted, it is the Australian Electoral Commission, from them not it is from an Australian, an Australian agency best qualified to give an answer.

  • choosing life
    choosing life

    If you go to the link that Blondie provided, it says that religious objections are a valid reason not to vote.

  • TheOldHippie

    Point 31 of Backgrounder no. 17 states that religious reasons are valid ones.

  • icer101

    The only part I saw that had the words religious in it was the following:

    What is a general postal voter, and how do I register as one?

    An elector who is registered as General Postal Voter will automatically be sent ballot papers as soon as practicable following the declaration of nominations for a federal election, or the issue of writ for a federal referendum.

    An eligible elector only has to fill in a General Postal Vote application form once. Electors do not have to reapply. This is where a General Postal Vote application form differs from a Postal Vote Application. A Postal Vote Application is made available by the AEC on the announcement of an election and is only intended to be used for that electoral event.

    An elector can apply to be registered as a General Postal Voter if they:

    • live more than 20 kilometres from a polling place, including a place where mobile polling will be conducted;
    • are a patient at a hospital or nursing home where polling will not take place, and because of serious illness or infirmity is unable to travel to a polling place
    • are not in hospital but, due to serious illness or infirmity, are unable to travel from their home to a polling place;
    • cannot travel to a polling place because they are caring for a person who is seriously ill or infirm;
    • are detained in custody in prison or on remand awaiting trial;
    • are registered as a silent elector; or
    • are an elector whose religious beliefs, or membership of a religious order, preclude them from attending a polling place for all or most of the hours of polling.

    I couldn't find anywhere where it says that one is absolved from voting due to their beliefs, etc... In the above statement, it seems that the matter is that one can apply to vote via the post, if one falls under any of the categories listed below it. This includes people that are unable to attend due to their religious convictions, that may coincide during the day that elections are held.

    Also blondie, I apologise if I sounded negative with my comment regarding non-Australians. I have no ill-feelings towards anyone in this thread, at all.

    It is just that I have had experiences in the past where people that are not qualified to give statements, base their comments on hearsay/comments only heard, and not verified, that have landed me in undesirable situations. For this reason, I am being pedantic about the source I gather my information from.

    Having said that, I agree that the site would have been put up by Australians, as it is an Australian Government website. However, the more intricate details are what I am after, rather just plain quoting what is directly apparent. Sometimes things are not put out in the open for all to see, as for in this instance, it would in the interest of the Australian governing system, that everybody votes. However, by knowing which proverbial knobs to turn, and buttons to push, there may be a way to bypass voting, in Australia.

    This is the information that I am after.

    Whilst working for a company in the past, they had a product which was not advertised anywhere, yet they still had it. This product was only ever mentioned if the customer utterred certain trigger words. Otherwise, no one would be the wiser about it being available.

    I hope you have a clearer understanding of why I stated what I did. Again, I appreciate your efforts in trying to get me my answer.

    Warm Regards,


  • blondie

    Electoral Backgrounder No. 17

    31. Under subsection 245(14) of the Act the fact

    that an elector believes it to be a part of his

    or her religious duty to abstain from voting

    constitutes a valid and sufficient reason for

    not voting.

    This is what OldHippie brought up...just a little googling and I found it.

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises


    As I am an Australian who frequently received “failure to vote” notices, perhaps I’ll chime in….

    Yes, when you receive the “failure to vote” notice in the mail, there is a space where you can explain your reason for not voting.

    You just state that as a Jehovah’s Witness, it is against your religious conscience to vote for a govt run by man, not God. You can then include a scripture as well, if you want to be super spiritual.

    Frankly, I don’t know why you don’t want to vote, as it’s a privilege that we have in this democratic country we live in. And all to avoid a $20 fine???

    As JWs, never had the option to vote, so I appreciate the freedom I have now. Not to mention that only 100 years ago, women still couldn’t vote!!

  • icer101

    So you see blondie, it was not as clear cut as what you had initially posted.

    Rather, there is way to not vote, 'with a valid and sufficient reason', and not be fined ;)

    I honestly thought that there was no way around not getting fined. Glad to be corrected on this one.

    I appreciate the trouble you and TheOldHippie went through to help me get the answer I was looking for.

    Thank you both :D

    As for being against voting?

    I am not against voting so much as being against man made laws, that transgress God's Laws.

    Voting is only a means to an end. At least, that is how I view it.

    As for paying the $20, that also is not an issue in and of itself.

    The money that I give, is in effect supporting a system my belief is against.

    Oh, and I am not a Jehovah's Witness either

    Thank you everyone for your time and effort in providing me the much appreciated help you have given.

    Warmest Regards,


  • blondie

    I expected you to use a little initiative and your own brain and use the website like Old Hippie did.

  • techdotcom

    Of course, you could just go ahead and go the the ballot box according to the information from the society. What you do when you are there is up to your conscience. At least that is what the literature seems to say.

    WT Nov 1st 1999 (thx JW facts for that one)

    And one of the new publications from 2008, I'll have to look on the library CD and post that. If someone else has it handy have a go at it. These, of course completly contradicts what any witness I have asked believes to be true and what some of the other sited sources from the literature state. Search for "voting" on the cd rom and notice how wives of unbelievers are encouraged to go to the voting booth if thier unbelieving mate demands it.

    I wonder what the surviving brothers and sisters in Malawi think about this softend stance on showing christain neutrality?

    The link to JWfacts:

  • jwfacts

    In Australia you can avoid being fined for not voting by invoking your rights as a consciencious objector. After the election you receive a letter requesting you pay a small fine, or supply a reason for why you should be exempt from voting. I used to write something such as:

    As one of Jehovah's Witnesses I invoke my right as a conscientious objector to abstain from voting. Daniel 2:44 shows that God's kingdom will soon rule the earth and as a follower of Jesus I remain neutral in political affairs.

    In the last election my wife did not vote, so I filled out her letter as follows:

    As one of Jehovah's Witnesses I invoke my right as a conscientious objector to abstain from voting. Daniel 2:44 shows that soon God will kill everyone involved in politics and everyone who is not a Jehovah's Witness.

    I can imagine the look on the readers face.

  • fulltimestudent

    OK, as i read you query, you are not a J.Witness, and you do not have a conscientious reason against voting. But you do not see that the system is worth your vote.

    The law is specific - voting is compulsory. But since it is a secret ballot, then all you have to do is to attend the voting centre, and vote informally. You can do this by putting a couple of lines through both voting papers and/or writing a succinct message, such as, 'screw all f**king politicians' or similar.

    If you wish to do more, then wait for the 'please explain' and on that state why you do not vote and take your chances on a fine. If you are fined, you can obtain some publicity for your cause by refusing to pay the fine and perhaps going to jail.

    I sympathise with your feelings, if Tony Abbot and Julia Gillard are the finest politicians that our system can produce then screw the system.

    I upset one of my lecturers, who is a true blue believer in Aussie democracy, by pointing out how useless our system is and telling him that since the Chinese Communist Party University (that trains Chinese politicians and leaders) now has a link to the Australian National University in Canberra, that we ought to pay the Chinese Communist Party to train our politicians in the art of getting things done. (As they seem to be doing rather well at getting things done.)

  • Listener

    Just to confirm the above there are two ways of going about it.

    The first is to go to the Polling Booth and have your name crossed off this list. Then on the paper mark the form so as to make it an informal vote, by crossing it or whatever. The WT has made it clear in their publications that this is acceptable if it is not against your own conscience. Many JWs will not do this but the fact is it is legal requirement to vote and the JWs also acknowledge that we must be obediant to the law of the land if it does not contravene God's law. I chose this method many years ago when I left.

    The other method is to not attend and be served with the papers inviting an explanation as to why you didn't vote. I know of a person who does this but is not a JW. The form is completed on the basis that they are a 'conscientious objector' on a religious basis and quote a scripture. They have never been fined.

    Personally I prefer the first method as it demonstrates that I will comply with the law. Also by deliberately making it an informal vote it sends a message to the Government to say that even though we are law abiding citizens it is a nonsense to force people to choose one Party over another. Hopefully as the number of informal votes increases they will make voting non compulsory.

  • Broken Promises
    Broken Promises

    In the last election my wife did not vote, so I filled out her letter as follows:

    As one of Jehovah's Witnesses I invoke my right as a conscientious objector to abstain from voting. Daniel 2:44 shows that soon God will kill everyone involved in politics and everyone who is not a Jehovah's Witness.

    I can imagine the look on the readers face.


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