Agreed on terms for not voting penalties

Sophia Wrightman made this Freedom of Information request to Australian Electoral Commission

Australian Electoral Commission did not have the information requested.

From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

Regarding the penalties for not voting, please provide terms where such penalties were agreed on between The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) and a man or woman who is registered as enrolled to vote with AEC.

Yours faithfully,

Sophia Wrightman

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Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

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From: INFO
Australian Electoral Commission


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For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Sophia,

 

Thank you for your email to the AEC. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
(Electoral Act) underpins the electoral process. Penalties for not voting
are law in Australia, as determined by the parliament, not the AEC.

 

Under s. 245(2) of the Act, a list of the names and addresses of the
electors who appear to have failed to vote at an election must be prepared
for each division. After election day, the names and addresses on all
certified lists of voters for all divisions across Australia are scanned
by computer. This scanning process produces a report on apparent
non-voters and apparent multiple voters.

 

Within three months after election day, each Divisional returning officer
(DRO) must send by post a penalty notice to every elector whose name and
address appears on the

list of apparent non-voters.

 

The penalty notice posted to an elector advises that he or she appears to
have failed to vote at the election and that it is an offence to fail to
vote at an election without a valid and sufficient reason. The elector is
further advised that if he or she does not wish to have the matter dealt
with by a court, the elector may, within a specified time either:

 

1.            Advise the DRO of the circumstances in which they did in
fact vote

2.            Advise the DRO of the valid and sufficient reason why they
did not vote, or

3.            Pay to the DRO a penalty of $20.

 

If no reply is received to the first penalty notice, a second penalty
notice must be sent by the DRO.

 

Under subsection 245(11) of the Act, if an elector is unable to respond to
correspondence from the DRO because of absence from his or her residential
address or because of physical incapacity, then another elector who has
personal knowledge of the facts may respond on behalf of the elector who
appears to have failed to vote.

 

If the elector pays to the DRO the $20 penalty for failing to vote, then
the matter ends there.

 

Where the elector writes to the DRO providing a reason for not voting, and
the DRO is not satisfied that the reason provided is valid and sufficient,
then the DRO must write again to the elector advising that the DRO is not
satisfied, and that if the elector does not wish to have the matter dealt
with by a court, the elector may, within a specified time period, pay to
the DRO a penalty of $20. If the elector then pays to the DRO the $20
penalty for failing to vote, the matter ends there.

 

An elector may be prosecuted pursuant to s. 245(15) for failing to vote at
an election without a valid and sufficient reason, or for making a
statement in response to a penalty notice, or to the further notice by the
DRO, that is, to his or her knowledge, false or misleading in a material
particular. The court may impose a maximum penalty of $50. In addition,
court costs may also be payable.

 

Kid regards,

 

Sally Bolton | Enquiries

Education & Communications Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

Canberra ACT

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[1]Australian Electoral Commission logo [2]Australian Electoral Commission

 

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From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Sally Bolton,

Thank you for providing AEC procedural information and related Acts in regards to the handling of penalties for not voting.

Unfortunately this was not the information requested. If available, please provide terms where
such penalties were agreed on between AEC and those who have registered with AEC to vote.

If such terms are not available it is implied that there is no contractual basis for such penalties. Please verify.

Yours faithfully,

Sophia Wrightman

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Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

This is an automatic response from the Australian Electoral Commission to confirm we have received your email.

For more information on enrolling to vote, federal elections or the AEC, visit www.aec.gov.au.

Please do not respond to this email.

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From: Paul Pirani
Australian Electoral Commission


Attachment Ms Wrightman FOI request non voting.pdf
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UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Ms Wrightman

Please find attached the AEC's reply to your email.

Yours sincerely

Paul Pirani | Chief Legal Officer
Legal & Compliance Branch Executive | Legal & Compliance Branch Australian Electoral Commission
T: (02) 6271 4474 | M: 0401 144 531 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Paul Pirani,

You said:

"...AEC does not have in its possession any document or other record that would contain "the terms where such penalties were agreed on between the AEC and those who have registered with AEC to vote"."

Thank you for verifying that those who register with AEC cannot agree to any AEC registration terms (as no documentation of such terms exists).

Also you said:

"There is clearly no requirement at law that there should be some contractual agreement between the AEC and individual electors..."

Thank you also for clarifying that no agreement exists between "electors" and AEC about the terms of an "elector" and any breeches of such where penalties are given.

This implies an "elector" waives his or her right to hold legitimate agreements with AEC. Is there full disclosure of this upon registering to vote as an "elector"? If so please provide any record or documentation that indicates this.

Thank you again for your assistance.

Warm regards,

Sophia Wrightman

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From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Paul Pirani,

Please excuse an error on my last email as follows:

"Thank you also for clarifying that no agreement exists between
"electors" and AEC about the terms of an "elector" and any breeches
of such where penalties are given."

In case there's any confusion, the word should be "breaches" not "breeches".

Yours sincerely,

Sophia Wrightman

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From: Paul Pirani
Australian Electoral Commission

For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Wrightman

I do not understand what you are now purporting to be seeking from the Australian electoral Commission (AEC).

As was made very clear in the decision of Holmdahl v AEC (No.2) [2012] SASCFC 110) enrolling to vote is compulsory as is attending to vote under the requirements of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Accordingly, there is no contractual basis in the relationship between the AEC and individual electors.

Yours sincerely

Paul Pirani | Chief Legal Officer
Legal & Compliance Branch Executive | Legal & Compliance Branch Australian Electoral Commission
T: (02) 6271 4474 | M: 0401 144 531 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Paul Pirani,

Before you register to be on the Electoral Roll, you would not be considered to be an "elector". If this is not the case, please clarify.

As an "elector" a number of obligations are required to be met as you have kindly outlined. Would not AEC be responsible for disclosing one's pending obligations to a would be "elector"? If this is not the case, please clarify.

Given that, I'm seeking any record AEC has that indicates full disclosure is given of terms one agrees to upon registering to be an "elector".

Thanks again for your help.

Yours sincerely,

Sophia Wrightman

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From: Paul Pirani
Australian Electoral Commission

For-Official-Use-Only

Dear Ms Wrightman

The obligations contained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 have been in place since 1924. There is no basis for your claim that a person "agrees" to become an elector. This is a legal obligation that is placed on all eligible Australians.

I now place you on notice that the AEC will not be responding to any further emails from you on this issue as we have clearly explained the legal requirements contained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to you on three occasions.

Yours sincerely

Paul Pirani | Chief Legal Officer
Legal & Compliance Branch Executive | Legal & Compliance Branch Australian Electoral Commission
T: (02) 6271 4474 | M: 0401 144 531 | F: (02) 6271 4457

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From: Sophia Wrightman

Delivered

Dear Paul Pirani,

Thank you for your response and apologies if I've taken more time than necessary to learn about these matters, however I feel many important things have been clarified.

For example, it is verified in this correspondence that Australians are treated as "electors" by AEC, whether or not they agree or register to be "electors". It is also verified that while AEC are responsible for penalising "electors" who breach terms (they can't agree to), AEC takes no responsibility for full disclosure of such terms nor for verifying that such terms are even acknowledged by "electors".

Considering it has been verified too that no valid agreements are held between AEC and "electors", what is implied is the only binding terms of this relationship between Australians and AEC is one of consent.

I feel you could appreciate that these are valuable things for Australians to know about. Thank you again for helping to verify these matters.

Yours sincerely,

Sophia Wrightman

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Sophia Wrightman left an annotation ()

As a side note, it is implied that Australians who freely consent being under the status of "elector" are "eligible Australians" in AEC's view. As a follow up, this would be good to clarify further.

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

This request and the other emails look similar to some other requests where an applicant seemed not to be trying to get a document but to be trying to prove that something did not exist. There are several other requests in Right to Know when it appears the applicant wants to prove that a department has done something improper and the proof, for the applicant, is that a document does not exist when the applicant thinks it should exist. For example, an Act of Parliament does not say that it is enacted in the name of Her Majesty the Queen.

This request here looks as if the applicant is of the mind that the AEC should give "full and frank disclosure", like in a financial services document. But the law in Australia is not so. A citizen has a duty to inform herself of the law and to do her duty according to the law. It does not matter if you enroll to vote or not enroll. The law fits you.

The statments in the last letter here are not correct. The relationship between an Australian citizen and the AEC is not based on the person to consent to the authority of the AEC. It is not require the AEC to tell you your duty. The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodi... imposes duties on Australian citizens and imposes penalties on citizens who fail to perform their duty. A person agrees to do his duty by being an Australian citizen.If the duty is terrible, then renuciation of citizenship is possible. It happens in some countries. One duty is to enrol to vote when you fulfil the conditions that would permit you to enrol. An "elector" is a person on a electoral roll; it is not a person who could be on an electoral roll and it is not right to say 'Australians are treated as "electors" by AEC, whether or not they agree or register to be "electors".' It is helpful to read the Act where I have shown the link to understand what is an elector and Australian citizens have several choices. Do not enrol and pay the penalties for not enrolling. Enrol and become an "elector" but not vote so pay the penalty for not voting. Enrol and vote and be part of Australian democracy.

It is the same when you are a pedestrian. When you leave your house and walk on the street you must know the law about how to behave. If you cross the road in a wrong manner, you can have a penalty. It is not for duty of the police to tell you the pedestrian law before you walk.

Tak til min ven KP til redigering.

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Sophia Wrightman left an annotation ()

Locutus Sum, in good faith I had hoped the records I was seeking did in fact exist. If they did it would make AEC's position legitimate. However from the above correspondence with Paul we can deduce simply that:

- AEC acts on terms (called obligations) that guide what it means to
be an "elector"
- AEC disregards whether or not Australians agree to such terms
- AEC treats Australians as "electors" whether or not they chose to be
"electors"
- AEC takes no responsibility for full disclosure of such terms
- but AEC takes full responsibility for penalising Australians that
breach such terms

I believe you would agree, there are serious issues with such a position. One is in consideration of our rights. A right is a responsibility. A responsibility is owned wholly by the individual (no one else can be responsible for your responsibilities). A responsibility is not the same as an obligation, as an obligation requires consent or prior agreement (one needs to oblige first). A right to vote recognised in the Constitution (not bestowed) is a right wholly owned by an individual. A choice not to vote is also exercising the that same right. Those who infringe on an others' rights by force and threat (such as with the use of penalties and enforcement orders enacted by AEC) do so under their own full personal responsibility, without impunity, the responsibility of harm done to others is still is in effect.

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Sophia Wrightman left an annotation ()

LS maybe your friend KP can help edit my typos!

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

I apologise if you thought I meant to say that your application was not in good faith. When people have a difficult time to learn about their government, I do not think even an application when a person believes there is no document is a "bad faith" application. But in any case, you expected a document to exist.

I meant only to say that very often when there is no document it is difficult to know what that means. And your deduction about what it means is maybe not the same as what the department thinks it means. That is the reason maybe for the strong reply from the AEC. The AEC does not want people to believe it said the same words as your deduction says. You deduced something on informed consent. The AEC says only, "This is the law."

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Sophia Wrightman left an annotation ()

Our rights, property and agreements in trust are fundamental to law and there being rule of law in place.

1) The right to freedom of opinion implies the freedom to express and act on such opinions. A right to vote is a minor descriptive aspect of that. A vote is what happens when one acts on his or her opinion (expresses). If I elect not to vote, is that not an expression of my opinion and so still exercising that right?

2) A right is also owned by all that hold that right, what is owned is property. You cannot dictate in law to the owner of property what he does with that property.

2) Lastly having valid agreement is the basis of commercial law. AEC being a subsidiary company operates in commerce and is therefore subject to the laws of commerce. If AEC hold invalid contracts and penalise men and woman on terms not agreed to, should AEC be immune to the laws it is subject to?

So I too say "this is the law".

In regards to the changed status of this page:

"This request has been reported as needing administrator attention (perhaps because it is vexatious, or a request for personal information)"

I would like to withdraw anything that is shown to be vexatious here. First I request specific details about what is vexatious by the claimant. But if no details are given in a reasonable time, I would take it to mean there is no vexatious content, and ask the admin to update the status accordingly. Thanks!

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