SSM: Change of mind not valid reason for replacement forms, says ABS

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Gay Couple
Dwayne D. Beefe-Franqui (L) of Pensacola, Florida, holds on to his husband Jonathan. Reuters/Chris Tilley

A new confusion related to the same-sex marriage survey process in Australia has been introduced, with claims that those who have already voted can change their vote from No to Yes and vice versa. Some people in Tasmania have reportedly got a text message saying they can get their ballot papers issued again.

According to the text, voters can contact the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to have their ballot papers reissued. ABS is the government body running the survey.

“If you or someone you know voted No in the marriage equality postal survey and you have changed your mind and want to vote Yes, just contact the ABS,” the text reportedly read. It remains unclear where the text message came from and if it was received randomly or was shared between people who knew each other.

On Monday’s Tasmania Talks program on Launceston radio station LAFM, a radio presenter said it is absolutely true that votes can be changed. Brian Carlton told his listeners that the radio station has contacted the ABS, who said they “could not see any reason why a person could not request and receive another vote if they changed their mind.”

ABS clarifies

The ABS has stepped in and clarified the issue. “You can arrange for a replacement Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey form to be sent to you if your form has been lost, damaged, did not arrive or was sent to an old address,” it said in a statement, according to news.com.au.

The government body has maintained that a change of mind is not a valid reason to request a replacement form, Business Insider reports. If replacement forms should be requested because of the reasons stated by the ABS, it must be requested by 6 pm AEST on October 20. LAFM has since corrected their broadcast.

Furthermore, the ABS has said that all ballots should have now been delivered. It recommends completed ballots to be returned by October 27.

Anyone whose ballot paper has not turned up, or have a damaged or spoiled form, can contact 1800 572 113 or request a new one online at marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au. Those who have moved home and were not able to update their address on the electoral roll can also follow the same procedures. ABS deputy Australian statistician Jonathan Palmer said the fastest and easiest way to contact them and request a form is through their website.

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