Rachael is voting as a silent elector in the 2022 federal election. Here’s what that means

This federal election, many Australians will cast their vote as silent electors, and Rachael* is one of them.

The Melbourne mother registered as a silent voter in June 2021.

She didn’t know her address could be withheld from the publicly available electoral roll until someone in her domestic violence course mentioned it.

“I obtained a family violence intervention order against my ex in May 2019, and it was made final and only recently lapsed in November 2021,” Rachael explained.

“My ex still drives past my house at every opportunity he gets.

“My husband has applied for the suppression as well, as my ex knows his name too.”

Rachael said the process to register online was straightforward and the instructions from the Australian Electoral Commission were pretty clear.

At the polls on May 21 she will need to be checked off by officials in a separate process, though next time she says she will apply to become a mail-only voter.

“When it comes to voting, I don’t like the multiple people thrusting pamphlets at you trying to score your vote when going to a centre, it can be overwhelming,” she said.

“It’s important for me to vote and I normally look into the candidates’ priorities and policies before I cast my vote, even in local council.”

But Rachael said it was important for people to know they can be silent electors and vote in a way that protects their wellbeing.

“It’s not something you can just avoid [changing] either because it is compulsory for all Australian citizens 18 and over to vote in federal elections.”

Another woman the ABC spoke to, who didn’t want her name published, said she was not aware of silent voting.

“I definitely would have used it earlier if I had known.

“I feel that I would like my vote to count and to be able to safely contribute.”

Who is eligible to be a silent elector and how does it work?

You can register with the AEC to be a silent elector if having your address included on the public electoral roll would put you or your family’s safety at risk.

If other family members who share your name are enrolled at your address, the AEC strongly recommends they also become silent electors too.

In applying, the AEC asks for a statutory declaration of the risk to you or your family.

That application is then considered by the AEC and it ultimately decides whether silent status is granted.

The AEC says your profession, having a silent phone number, or not wanting to receive junk mail are not valid reasons alone for granting silent elector status.

Can I change my details now?

Person holding a computer tablet on the e-Voting website of the Australian Electoral Commission in July 2016.
The deadline for registering to vote has passed.(ABC News)

unfortunately not.

The federal electoral roll closed on April 18, 2022, so the details listed on that date will be the details on the electoral roll this election.

But you can still enrol or update your details for future federal, state and local government elections.

*Name has been changed for legal reasons.

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