With the same-sex marriage postal survey coming up very soon, there's a lot you need to know.
We've put together this list to make sure you know exactly what is happening and how you can participate.
Postal Vote? Plebiscite? What’s The Correct Name?
The official name is The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
What Dates Do I Need To Know About?
You need to be enrolled by August 24th. Forms will be mailed out from September 12th. You’re advised to return them by October 27th, but the very last day to return forms is November 7th. We’ll know the results on November 15th.
Who Is Running This Survey?
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is conducting the survey, while the Australian Electoral Commission manages the electoral roll.
What Is The Reason For This Survey?
According to the ABS, “to request statistical information from all Australians on the Commonwealth Electoral Roll, as to their views on whether or not the law should be changed to allow same sex couples to marry.”
Are The Results Legally Binding?
No, not exactly. This is a survey and not a vote, so the results will not immediately trigger a change in the law.
But What If We Get A “Yes” Result? What Happens Then?
A bill will be introduced in Parliament for a conscience vote. Coalition MPs will be allowed to vote whichever way they want, unlike in the past when they had to vote No. It is expected that this would lead to a change in the law and same-sex marriage will be legalised.
What If We Get A “No” Result?
Coalition MPs will not get a conscience vote, and things will stay as they are. However, the ALP promises that they will legalise same-sex marriage if they win the next election.
Do I Have To Participate?
Participation is voluntary. Unlike with a regular election, you will not be fined if you don’t take part.
Who Is Eligible To Take Part In The Survey?
All Australians on the electoral roll are eligible to take part. If you’ve voted in an election in the past then you are already enrolled.
How Do I Enrol?
You need to be enrolled by the end of August 24th 2017 if you want to have your say. You can enrol right here.
I’ve Heard Under 18s Can Vote – Is This True?
Despite some confusing wording on initial documentation around the survey, the Australian Government has clarified that although teenagers can register for the electoral roll prior to voting age, they are not formally added to the electoral roll until they turn 18. This means that at this stage 16 and 17 year olds can not participate in the survey.
When Will I Receive My Form?
Survey forms will be mailed out as soon as practical from the week commencing 12 September.
How Do I Complete My Survey Form?
The survey form package will include instructions on how to complete it.
What Questions Will Be Asked?
One question will be asked, and it will reportedly be worded as, "Do you support a change in the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?"
How Do I Return My Survey Form?
The package containing the survey form will include a reply paid envelope which you can mail back.
I’m Going To Be At Another Address When The Form Gets Mailed Out
According to the ABS, "Eligible Australians who will not be at their enrolled address during the mailout period should arrange to have their mail forwarded or can contact the Australian Marriage Law Survey Information Line to arrange for a survey form to be dispatched to their nominated address. The Information Line 1800 572 113 is open 7 days a week, 8am - 8pm (local time)."
What Happens If I’m Overseas?
The ABS is currently working on arrangements to assist people who are overseas. These processes will be released on the ABS website once they are finalised.
What Happens If I Damage My Form?
You are able to get a replacement form, and details on how to do this will be available on the ABS website.
When Do I Need To Return My Form?
The ABS is encouraging eligible Australians to return the completed survey to the ABS address on the return envelope by 6pm on October 27th 2017. Surveys forms are officially due by 6pm, November 7th 2017.
When Will We Know The Results?
Results will be released on November 15th 2017 via the ABS website.
How Much Will This All Cost?
Can I Put Glitter In My Envelope?
We'd recommend avoiding this. It could cause issues. We've outlined why here.
Can I Write Other Messages Of Support On My Ballot Paper?
Look, you don't really want to do anything that will invalidate your vote. So don't go too wild. However, the ABS has told media outlets that votes with graffiti will still be considered valid as long as the yes or no votes are clearly legible.
I Have Another Question That Wasn't Addressed Here. Who Should I Contact?
The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey Information Line, 1800 572 113, is open seven days a week, 8am to 8pm (local time). You may also find some helpful information on the ABS website.