How the postal ballot will work

Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer


* Envelopes will be posted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics from September 12, with responses due by November 7 and a result announced on November 15.

* The electoral roll will close on August 24.

* Survey forms will include the question "Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" and voters will tick a "yes" or "no" box. Other marks on the form (such as a "1" in one box, or an "x" in one box) will be counted, so long as the preference of the voter is clear.

* Campaign material from political parties and other organisations will not need any authorisation details. That is, the source of the material need not be disclosed to voters because it is not being conducted under electoral laws.

* If people feel aggrieved by campaign material the following laws apply: Broadcasting Services Act (requires particulars where political material is broadcast on radio and television); Criminal Code (it is an offence to urge violence against groups or members of groups); civil and criminal penalties in state and territory laws; offences under the Criminal Act and the Criminal Code Act against the use of telephone and postal services to menace or harass, or to use the services of Australia Post in such a way as to be regarded as offensive.

* The government has made it clear it wants campaigners to take part with courtesy and respect.

* Allowing only a single response per envelope will mitigate against problems with the papers being copied.

* If voters do not receive a ballot paper for whatever reason, or mess one up and require another, contact the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

* If political parties spend money on campaigning, or receive donations, the "usual rules" under the Electoral Act will apply.

* Ballot paper scrutineers for both sides of the argument will be able to be appointed by members of the House of Representatives and senators.

* There will be a call centre for defence personnel on deployment.

* Australians overseas, who are on the electoral roll, and have registered as an overseas voter and provided their overseas address, will receive all the necessary documentation to enable them to vote at their overseas address.

* The Australian Statistician will declare the final result. It won't require a writ like an election.

(Source: Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.)