What’s legal at the polling booth

The law is very specific about what is and isn’t allowed on polling day both inside and outside the booth. Photo: Phil Hearne Voting … it’s something rich, white Aussie men have been doing since 1840 but today it is the democratic right of all Australians. The right to vote was hard won by women and indigenous people, with a failure to cast your vote now resulting in a fine for breaking the law.
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So what is legal and illegal on polling day both inside AND outside the booth?

What’s say on July 2 when the whole process of waiting in line has made you grumpy, you end up drawing your version of Mona Lisa all over the ballot paper, without numbering any boxes: this is called an informal vote. It means you marked the ballot paper, but you did not number every square so you’ve complied with the law but you have wasted your democratic opportunity. You can’t be fined for this however your vote will not count.

If you aren’t artistic enough to draw anything and you just number every square from the top to the bottom, this is called a donkey vote. This doesn’t incur a fine either as it is still valid and will be counted.

Not only can voters get in trouble for not casting their votes, but political parties and candidates can also get into hot water, including the people outside a polling booth making last-minute attempts to convince you to vote for their party.

A political party or candidate cannot publish or distribute electoral material which misleads or deceives a voter in casting their vote. For example, a sign saying, “don’t bother numbering the squares, just draw”, would be illegal, as this entices voters to cast an informal vote. This could result in a $1000 fine or six months in prison.

Other things that are illegal at a polling booth: A person can’t bribe you to vote for them or their political party or hinder the exercise of your free choice in deciding who to vote for. This is a $9000 fine and/or six months in prison. However, this doesn’t include handing out how to vote cards. Candidates and their teams cannot be within six metres of the entrance to a polling booth. Any soliciting of votes within this area can lead to a fine of up to $900.A person can’t use a loudspeaker or microphone outside a booth if it can be heard inside. The fine is also $900. A person must not write, draw or depict any electoral matter directly on any roadway, footpath, building, vehicle, vessel or place. The history of this offence goes back to the shortages of building supplies following WWII. It basically amounts to a graffiti type offence and does not cover printed and paid for signage. The fine is up to $1800.Scrutineers or officers inside the polling booth are not allowed to wear political badges or any emblem representing a candidate. This carries a $1000 fineThey are also not allowed to try to influence or communicate with voters in the booths. A breach of this rule can be six months prison and/or an $1800 fine.

If you see something you think may be wrong, contact the AEC on 13 23 26 or visit http://www.aec.gov.au/.

Happy voting and make sure you have your voice heard.

Like this blog? Like the Sisters-in-Law page on Facebook.

Alison and Jillian Barrett are both principals at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The Queensland sisters are experienced lawyers and passionate social justice campaigners. Alison juggles motherhood, as well as heading up a major legal practice area. Younger sister Jillian also leads a team of lawyers and sports a double degree in Law and Journalism.

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MPs to have free vote on gay marriage: PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have differing views on same-sex marriage but say they will vote in accordance with the plebiscite. Photo: Andrew Meares Labor senator Penny Wong Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says Coalition MPs will be free to ignore the result of the public vote on same-sex marriage and follow their consciences after the national plebiscite.

Mr Turnbull said that when it comes to legislating change he would not bind his cabinet colleagues to vote according to the will of the people, but that he expected most MPs – including those opposed to same-sex marriage – to accept the public’s verdict.

The details of the proposed plebiscite, including the exact question to be asked, have yet to be resolved even though a vote is expected by the end of the year. It has been unclear whether Coalition MPs, particularly cabinet members, would be forced to accept the plebiscite verdict.

Asked on Friday if cabinet members would be bound to support the plebiscite result, Mr Turnbull said: “The tradition in the Liberal Party is that on matters of this kind it is a free vote.”

But he said: “I have no doubt that if the plebiscite is carried, as I believe it will be, that you will see an overwhelming majority of MPs and senators voting for it.”

Mr Turnbull named Treasurer Scott Morrison as one cabinet member who is opposed to same-sex marriage but has said he would vote “yes” if that is what the people decide. Former prime minister Tony Abbott, also against same-sex marriage, has said the same thing.

But conservative MPs such as Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi, who fought against a conscience vote in the last term of Parliament, have indicated they may vote no regardless of the plebiscite result.

Labor Senator Penny Wong responded on Twitter, saying: “Malcolm Turnbull didn’t give supporters of marriage equality a free vote before the election, but will give opponents of marriage equality a free vote after the election.

“Traded his principles for the leadership.”

The Greens say the Prime Minister’s position indicate the pointlessness of the plebiscite.

“I think most Australians would be scratching their heads this morning. How exactly can the Prime Minister justify spending $160 million on what is in effect a giant opinion poll that isn’t even binding on his own members,” Greens marriage equality spokesperson senator Robert Simms said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has described the plebiscite as “a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia”, but Mr Turnbull has said he believes Australia is capable of having a respectful debate on same-sex marriage.

A poll released by Griffith University last week showed that seven in 10 of voters, including most Labor voters, support a plebsicite on the issue.

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The week that was: June 18 – 24PHOTOS

The week that was | PHOTOS NEWS: Dye Hard Fun Run in Maitland.
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NEWS: Hunter produce lovers stopped in at High Street Maitland for the markets

NEWS: Bradford Hotel lager loungers take on Genesis Gym lycra lovers in charity challenge for heart kid Marcus Dunn

NEWS: Hunter police uncover three hydroponic set-ups in the region.

NEWS: Bureau of Meteorology says Friday, Monday and Tuesday could bring snow at Barrington Tops

NEWS: Federal election 2016: Teenager Christian Cedergren stops Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in his tracks with plea for help for his disabled sister.

NEWS: Fire and smoke cause road closure in Singleton

NEWS: Muswellbrook South Public School participate in Mark Hughes Foundation’s Beanie for Brain Cancer Week.

NEWS: Fun aplenty at St Joseph’s Merriwa Parents and Friends Junior Campdraft and Fete

NEWS: Cheese Lovers Festival at the Sebel Kirkton Park, Pokolbin part of Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival program.

NEWS: More than 120 car tyres have been slashed in inner-city suburbs in a month-long rampage infuriating residents. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

SPORT: The Philadelphia 76ers made former Newcastle junior Ben Simmons the No.1 pick in the NBA draft on Friday morning. Picture: Getty

NEWS: The Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council has reacted angrily to a request from NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Leslie Williams to give reasons why an administrator should not be appointed to the organisation.

NEWS: Police searching for missing Carrington man Jackson Baker have made the heartbreaking discovery of a man’s body in Newcastle Harbour at Stockton.

SPORT: Scott Miller plans to use $400,000 in salary cap concessions to help transform the Newcastle Jets into a genuine finals contender. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NEWS: Hunter students are divided over the call to make maths and science compulsory. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

NEWS: Brain cancer survivor Miley Griffiths helps raise funds for The Mark Hughes Foundation.

NEWS: Sanitary items often fall off the shopping list for those mums who struggle to make ends meet but a Port Stephens initiative means they won’t go without. Picture: Sam Norris

NEWS: Baits have killed three family dogs and more than 20 native birds at Corlette in the past two months.

NEWS: Soldiers Point Public School receives two friendship seats. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

NEWS: Year 6 students from Raymond Terrace Public School have begun to restore bicycles for the less fortunate.

NEWS: Morisset High School’s Reconnect Class takes a physical approach to helping year 9 boys stay on task. Picture: David Stewart

NEWS: Voters will have the chance on Wednesday to meet and grill candidates contesting the seat of Hunter at the federal election on July 2. Picture: David Stewart

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NBA Draft 2016: Ben Simmons backs himself to improve Philadelphia 76ers I video

Ben Simmons is backing himself to lift the struggling Philadelphia 76ers out of the doldrums after being taken with the No.1 pick on a red-letter day for Australian basketball at the NBA Draft.
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Ben Simmons after securing the No.1 draft pick.

The 76ers, as expected, chose the 19-year-old first-up in Brooklyn on Friday, but the selection of giant centre Thon Maker as the No.10 pick to the Milwaukee Bucks was a surprise.It is the first time Australians have landed two spots in the top 10.

Simmons hugged parentsJulieand Dave after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the selection inside the Barclays Center.

“It is a weight off my shoulders, honestly,” he said.”I’m relieved and happy to be a part of the organisation.”

Simmons moved to Newcastle from Melbourne when he was a toddler and stayed until the family moved back to Victoria when he was 10.

He started playing on the courts of Broadmeadow Basketball Stadium and represented Newcastle and Lake Macquarie in junior teams.

Dave Simmons, a former player and head coach for Newcastle in the NBL,told theHerald from New York that the family were “so excited”.

Ben Simmons’ new Foot Locker commercial Part 1“Julie and I are pretty overwhelmed,” he said.“This was just a fabulous moment for Ben and our family.”

Ben Simmons, who signed a $US20million ($26.30 million) deal with Nike and will earn $US15.42million over three years with the 76ers, faces a monumental task to turn Philadelphia around.

The 76ers were the worst team in the NBA last season with just 10 wins in 82 games.

Ben Simmons’ new Foot Locker commercial Part 2Pressure will be on Simmons to be the saviour, but he already has a close relationship with the coach, former Australian Boomers mentor Brett Brown.

“I think I can make an impact,” he said.”It is going to take a lot of work and everyone has to be on board, but we have a young team and I’m looking forward to getting there.I’ll get bumps and bruises, but that comes with being a rookie. It will be a new experience for me.”

Allen Iverson, who was picked No.1 by the 76ers 20 years ago and went on to become an 11-time All-Star, believes Simmons “can do it all” and “has a lot of young talent that can take us far”.

But he warned Philly fans were passionate and would accept him only if he gave100 per cent on the floor.

“There’s going to be some ups, and there’s going to be some downs, but these people will stick with you through your ups and your downs,” Iverson said.

“I’m the perfect example.”

Simmons is the third Australian-born player to be drafted No.1, after Bogut in 2005 and American Kyrie Irving in 2011.

Federal election 2016: What’s legal at the polling booth

GET IT RIGHT: The law is very specific about what is and isn’t allowed on polling day both inside and outside the booth. Photo: Phil Hearne Voting … it’s something rich, white Aussie men have been doing since 1840 but today it is the democratic right of all Australians. The right to vote was hard won by women and Indigenous people, with a failure to cast your vote now resulting in a fine for breaking the law.
Shanghai night field

So what is legal and illegal on polling day both inside AND outside the booth?

What’s say on July 2 when the whole process of waiting in line has made you grumpy, you end up drawing your version of Mona Lisa all over the ballot paper, without numbering any boxes: this is called an informal vote. Itmeansyou marked the ballot paper, but you did not number every squaresoyou’ve complied with the law but you have wasted your democratic opportunity. You can’t be fined for thishoweveryour vote will not count.

If you aren’t artistic enough to draw anything and you just number every square from the top to the bottom, this is called a donkey vote. This doesn’t incur a fine either as it is still valid and will be counted.

Not only can voters get in trouble for not casting their votes, but political parties and candidates can also get into hot water, including the people outside a polling booth making last-minute attempts to convince you to vote for their party.

A political party or candidate cannot publish or distribute electoral material which misleads or deceives a voter in casting their vote. For example, a sign saying, “don’t bother numbering the squares, just draw”, would be illegal, as this entices voters to cast an informal vote.This could result in a $1000 fine or six monthsin prison.

Other things that are illegal at a polling booth:

A person can’t bribe you to vote for them or their political party or hinder the exercise of your free choice in deciding who to vote for. This is a $9000 fine and/or six months in prison. However, this doesn’t include handing out how to vote cards.Candidates and their teams cannot be within six metres of the entrance to a polling booth. Any soliciting of votes within this area can lead to a fine of up to $900.A person can’t use a loudspeaker or microphone outside a booth if it can be heard inside. The fine is also $900.A person must not write, draw or depict any electoral matter directly on any roadway, footpath, building, vehicle, vessel or place. The history of this offence goes back to the shortages of building supplies following WWII. It basically amounts to a graffiti type offence and does not cover printed and paid for signage. The fine is up to $1800.Scrutineers or officers inside the polling booth are not allowed to wear political badges or any emblem representing a candidate. This carries a $1000 fineThey are also not allowed to try to influence or communicate with voters in the booths. A breach of this rule can be six months prison and/or an $1800 fine.If you see something you think may be wrong, contact the AEC on 13 23 26 or visitaec.gov.au.

Happy voting and make sure you have your voice heard.

Alison and Jillian Barrett are both principals at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. The sisters are experienced lawyers and passionate social justice campaigners. Alison juggles motherhood, as well as heading up a major legal practice area. Younger sister Jillian also leads a team of lawyers and sports a double degree in Law and Journalism.