From the GetUp! email:
This isn’t a normal GetUp email. I want to ask for your thoughts on an important legal decision that we need to make in the next 24 hours.
Up to half of all 18 year olds aren’t on the electoral roll. This election, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of young Australians missed out on their chance to vote because our politicians haven’t changed the archaic enrolment system. In fact, Julia Gillard announced the election on Saturday and unregistered voters only had until Monday to enrol to vote. That’s not even enough time to post the application form!
It shouldn’t be like this – and we have an opportunity to launch a landmark court case to change it.
In the next 24 hours we have to decide whether to lodge a test case in the Federal Court that could make it possible for Australians to enrol online. If we win, we’ll have strengthened our democracy in a landmark victory. Even if we don’t, this case takes the issue of reforming Australia’s antiquated electoral laws from the courts to the national headlines, and onto the priority list of the next Government.
The lawyers are preparing the case, the documents are ready to file. But the legal system is a new arena for GetUp, and this court case has the potential to cost more than a normal GetUp campaign. So I need to know whether this is enough of a priority for you. I urgently need to know whether you support us going ahead. What’s your vote?
There are 1.4 million Australians missing from the electoral roll. Many are young people who haven’t yet enrolled, or who’ve been struck from the roll because they’ve moved house.
That’s why last week GetUp created an innovative website called OzEnrol.com.au. It featured a simple online tool allowing people to submit enrolment forms easily online in just a few minutes, without a fax machine or the need for snail mail. The site allowed users to sign their form using their computer mouse, trackpad or digital pen and submit it directly to the AEC.
The AEC took the opinion that ‘digitally constructed’ signatures are not valid for enrolment. Our teams of lawyers disagree, pointing to a piece of legislation called the Electronic Transactions Act. They argue that enrolments signed online are legal and should be accepted under the current laws. This hasn’t yet been tested in a court, and that’s the opportunity before us this week.
We have to decide by 5pm Wednesday whether or not to lodge this case. Some of Australia’s best lawyers are already preparing. The litigants are Sophie and Oliver – two young people who used the website and are ready to go to court to fight for their right to vote. Should we get behind them?
As a movement, our steps are determined by GetUp members like you. Whatever course we choose together, thank you for making this movement possible.
Thanks for your input,
Simon, for the GetUp Team.
P.S. Young people have the greatest stake in decisions our Government makes about Australia’s future, and are some of the strongest champions for the progressive issues at the core of the GetUp movement. Launching this court case could make it possible for them – and all Australians – to enrol online. Should we proceed? Click here to vote yes or click here to vote no.
Few legal questions are black and white. This one certainly is not. The question hinges on whether the signing of an enrolment or change of enrolment details forms can be made digitally. More about it behind the cut. Continue reading