What constitutes a religious duty to abstain from voting

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

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Australian Electoral Commission.

Sophia Wrightman

Dear Australian Electoral Commission,

For the purposes of the FOI Act I am seeking documentation that expands or clarifies exactly what the AEC regards as "religious duty" in relation to:

"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
suficient reason for not voting."

Yours faithfully,

Sophia Wrightman

Australian Electoral Commission

Thank you for contacting us.

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

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Locutus Sum left an annotation ()

This is a very interesting question and it will be of interest to see what is the response from the Australian Electoral Commission. I think one must expect (and hope) that there will be no "guidelines" and for a very good reason. Section 245(14) (http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodi...) does not connect to the opinion of the Australian Electoral Commission. It describes the religious exemption in terms of "the fact that an elector believes ...". Facts are facts. They can be assessed from evidence about their truth and an elector might be demanded to show evidence of "the fact" but that is all. If an elector who has the belief is fined or prosecuted by the Australian Electoral Commission then they will have opportunities to show to a court the evidence of the fact of their belief.

The only important opinion for the Australian Electoral Commission is to consider whether a prosecution is likely to produce a conviction. If they have the opinion "yes, it can succeed" then they will prosecute. If they have the opinion it will not succeed then one must expect no prosecution.

Tak til KP igen om hjælp.

Sophia Wrightman left an annotation ()

In the absence of guidelines, if someone says he or she has a religious
duty to abstain from voting as an elector and acknowledges in court that they are an elector at the same time, the prosecution would be of the opinion "yes, it can succeed". It is rather a mute case without proper guidance.

Owen Jones, Australian Electoral Commission

5 Attachments


Dear Ms Wrightman

I refer to your email dated 19 December 2013 4:08 PM in which you make the
above FOI Request.

I enclose a scanned letter to you from Paul Pirani, Chief Legal Officer,
acknowledging receipt of your request and notifying you of his decision
about it.


Owen Jones

Owen Jones | Senior Lawyer

Legal Services Section | Legal & Compliance Branch

Australian Electoral Commission

T: (02) 6271 4528 | F: (02) 6293 7657


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