In light of this, it has been suggested that a system of automatic enrolment should be introduced. This proposal was put to the government by the AEC itself in 2007, was a recommendation arising from the Australia 2020 Youth Summit in 2008, and is a key policy of the Greens in the impending election.
Under such a model, voters would be automatically entered onto the electoral roll as soon as they are eligible. The information required to do this would flow from Medicare, Centrelink, Australia Post, state education offices, driving license registration centres or other government departments. Additionally, a capacity for automatic updating may also exist, eliminating the need to declare variations in address.
Interestingly, the AEC has operated a Continuous Roll Update process since 1999, which allows information obtained from various government agencies to be used to strike individuals from the electoral roll. Utilising the same resources to add and update people on the roll seems to be the reasonable next step.
Both New South Wales and Victoria have now adopted systems of automatic enrolment for state elections. Such a mechanism is employed nationally in Canada, and is common throughout countries in Europe.
As we move towards 21 August, we must also consider the future of our democracy and the ways in which we might improve it. Moreover, as this Thursday marks the beginning of the International Year of Youth, it is more important than ever to focus on empowering the young people who will shape our nation’s future.
Implementing automatic enrolment on a federal level is not only logical, it is necessary. Doing so would ensure the integrity of our elections, facilitate the enfranchisement of our youth, and strengthen our democracy.