If you put glitter in your envelope responding to the same-sex marriage postal survey you risk invalidating your vote, officials from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have warned.
Some marriage equality supporters on social media have encouraged voters to tick “yes” during next month’s postal survey on the issue and include glitter in the envelope.
But ABS deputy statistician Jonathan Palmer told a Senate inquiry on Thursday that while Australians could be confident their opinion would count if they posted the survey on time, any “extraneous material” could result in it “not being processed”.
“I think glitter is particularly problematic because these forms have to go through a scanning machine. I’m pretty sure they’re not robust for lots of glitter,” he said.
“We will do our best to process every survey form that can be processed but glitter will not help.
“[Glitter-filled envelopes] would be subject to some special process, so the forms might be either cleaned or transcribed but we won’t be pumping them through scanners and have them clog up.”
The ABS has advised that people should not do this as it could interfere with the processing of survey forms.
— AEC (@AusElectoralCom) August 14, 2017
Regarding theft and fraud during the survey, Mr Palmer told the inquiry the ABS “can’t guarantee against theft” in the postal process but warned “it would be against the law to open someone else’s mail.”
“There would be penalties around misleading the statistician,” he said, adding that if a valid recipient contacts the ABS to say they hadn’t received their survey, their previous one would be cancelled and a new form sent.
Indigenous LGBTI advocates are concerned Australians in remote communities will be excluded from the vote, and an organisation advocating for Australia’s 275,000 blind or vision impaired voters is alarmed at the apparent lack of accessible options.
Mr Palmer acknowledged some form of paperless survey would be required and said a number of options were under consideration to ensure equal access, to be clarified by early next week.
“It could be an online form, a touch-tone telephone solution, an SMS text message… we are still working out what would be the best option for a paperless return,” he said.
Australians have until next Thursday, August 24, to enrol to vote or update their details and ensure they receive a survey form.