Will Australia's postal vote on same-sex marriage be fair?

Australians report stolen and trashed ballots, others boast of voting more than once.

Chana Roberts,

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Flag of Australia
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Australi's same-sex marriage postal survey may not allow each citizen a fair vote.

Several Australians received forms for previous tenants, and one man expressed his pride in voting "seven times" on Twitter. Another man said he receives "so much mail" for previous tenants, and "every...one of these is being opened and sent back as a yes." A third citizen praised the "beauty" of the survey, which allowed him to use the ballots of previous tenants "to his advantage."

Australians have also reported finding piles of voting ballots in the trash, or having their ballots stolen from the mailbox. Others boasted on social media about successful thefts, and there are reports of ballots offered for sale.

Victims of the thefts were able to request a replacement ballot until September 25. The replacement ballots canceled the originals.

"The replacement survey will have a new barcode on it and the previous one will be cancelled and any previous response won’t be counted," a spokeswoman for the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

One Facebook user pointed out that the vote was not confidential, since shining a light over the envelope could reveal which box was checked. Anyone, he said "can go through and remove votes as they see fit."

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics claimed the transparency was not a concern, since "the survey form has no visible identifying information such as a name or address" and no one will be able to "identify the respondent."

They also said they "used envelopes manufactured with a security lining printed on the inside" but warned people not to post pictures showing their ballot's barcode.

The postal survey, a voluntary vote, cost Australia $122 million. Australia's Parliament is not required to accept the results of the vote, but may take them into account..








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