As the nation prepares to head to polling stations this Saturday to have their say in the 2016 Federal Election, many aged care residents across the country have already cast their vote.
Special hospital and remote mobile teams will have held more than 3,500 mobile polling events in aged care, hospitals and remote locations across the country ahead of Saturday’s election, according to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).
The AEC said it supported aged care residents by providing mobile polling stations at facilities ahead of election day.
“The AEC endeavours to provide mobile polling services in the lead up to the 2016 federal election at as many aged care facilities as possible,” an AEC spokesman told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The state offices and each electoral division identify and contact aged care facilities in their area, he said.
“We get in touch with the aged care facility and [arrange] the time and date so that they can organise their residents. Then we come out in a mobile polling team, which is generally two to four people with equipment and ballot papers, to poll the residents.”
For this election, most mobile polling began on Monday 20 June and would run up until the Friday, before election day on 2 July, the spokesperson said.
Another option available to aged care residents was postal voting, which was available to anyone who could not get to a polling place or an early voting centre.
For people with a cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there was a provision in the Electoral Act that allows them to be removed from the electoral roll.
“With that process, the family member or loved one needs to get a doctor’s certificate to say this person has Alzheimer’s and is not able to cast a vote,” he said.
Residents cast a vote
Fullarton Lutheran Homes in the Adelaide suburb of Fullarton is among the facilities where the mobile teams have visited.
Director of care Helen Chrisakis said about 80 of their 185 residents cast a vote last Wednesday at a mobile polling booth held in the facility’s chapel.
“It was advertised in our newsletter and on noticeboards everywhere and also in the activity program so everyone was aware they had to come and vote,” Ms Chrisakis told AAA.
She said residents made the choice whether they voted and that it was up to family or friends to support them on the day if required. However, most of those who did not vote had a cognitive impairment, she said.
Just like on election day, she said there were how-to-vote cards around.
Ms Chrisakis said the mobile polling process was positive particularly for a group who did not go out much, and that this year’s poll went well. “It was a good day,” she said.
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