Same-sex marriage vote: Aussies reportedly have until August 24 to register

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Lesbians
Roxana Ortiz and Virginia Gomez show their rings after celebrating their civil union, which is legal for the first time in the country, at Santiago city, Chile, October 22, 2015. Reuters/Ivan Alvarado

Aussies are given 14 days to register to be part of the same-sex marriage postal vote. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will reportedly make an announcement that those not yet on the electoral roll have until August 24 to register with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann has stated through the ABC's RN program that the government wanted to give Australians as much time as possible to register and voice their say. He assured that the government will be working closely with the ABS in order to ensure the process is fair.

"This is now going to be a matter for the ABS to determine," Senator Cormann said. The process will run with ballot papers going to every enrolled Aussie starting next month and will be returned by November 7. A result is slated on November 25.

Same-sex marriage on play

From Thursday, all Australians who are not yet registered have 14 days to enrol to vote. This applies to those who are already enrolled but needs to update their details since the last election.

The Parliament may be given a chance to vote later this year. However, there is no assurance that it will happen and MPs will not be bound by the result of the postal survey.

Advocates of same-sex marriage including Independent MP Andrew Wilkie have already launched a court challenge against the voluntary postal survey. Meanwhile, Labor Senator Penny Wong told the Senate that Aussie kids would be "exposed to hatred" by the push for a public vote.

Doubts on ABS’ role

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the union representing ABS employees, has expressed concern about the department’s ability to manage the postal vote. CPSU deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said that ABS is already facing massive pressure and struggling with its core functions following two rounds of job cuts.

"The Government's argument that this situation is nothing new because of the national anthem poll run by the ABS in 1974 is ridiculous,” Donnelly said. She argued that a postal plebiscite is an entirely different process.

Constitutional law experts raised concerns about whether the result of a voluntary postal survey could be trusted. Professor George Williams said there were experts in Australia whose job is to run sensitive national votes, and ABS is not one of them, as it is a body that has different sets of functions.

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