Voters at the next federal election would have to show identification to cast their vote under proposed laws that the government will submit to parliament.
The controversial legislation, which is expected to be introduced on Thursday, will address a multi-year issue for the coalition and aims to prevent people from voting multiple times or under false identities.
The changes were approved at the coalition’s party room meeting on Tuesday.
They would allow a very broad definition of identification documents, ranging from driver’s licenses and Medicare cards to letters from public authorities, electricity bills or bank statements.
A person without identification could vouch for another person who was able to show who they were and still be allowed to cast a vote. And no one would be prevented from voting at all, and people who had no opportunity to identify themselves were allowed to cast a “declaration vote” in which the registration information is checked by the polls afterwards.
This is in line with a recommendation from the Joint Standing Committee on Election Issues in its 2019 election report.
Committee Chairman James McGrath, a Liberal senator for Queensland, wrote in the report that “the sanctity of the electoral roll and the importance of every citizen having one vote” were crucial to ensuring that elections were fair, open and transparent and as such. .
But Election Commissioner Tom Rogers told a Senate committee in March that the AEC was happy with existing measures to prevent more votes and described the problem as “vanishingly small”.