Voice referendum: No campaign's 'arrogant' decision could cost them votes

Undecided voters in the Voice to Parliament referendum could be swayed to vote 'yes' at the last minute.

A lack of ‘no’ campaigners present at polling locations across Australia could sway some to vote ‘yes’ to enshrine an Indigenous voice in the constitution, a political expert has warned.

After casting his ballot at one of the more than 7,000 booths that are open from 8am to 6pm (local time) on Saturday, former Labor strategist Kos Samaras took to social media to vent about what he deemed to be an “arrogant” decision by those who oppose the referendum.

“Absence of ‘no’ volunteers at polling places is stark,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This was not a thing back in 1999. Presence at polling places matters more than a general election.

A Voice to Parliament referendum polling location with an absence of 'no' campaigners outside but several vote 'yes' signs.
A lack of 'no' campaigners at Voice to Parliament referendum polling locations could sway undecided voters, experts say. Source: NCA

“‘Yes’ volunteers will be converting undecided voters all day on placed where ‘no’ have arrogantly abandoned.”

According to a recent Newspoll survey published in The Weekend Australian, six per cent of voters said they were undecided. There has been a three-point swing toward a ‘yes’ vote over the past week to 37 per cent, however 57 per cent of surveyed voters said they intended to vote 'no' as of Friday.

The Voice: Lack of 'no' campaigners could have impact

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Melbourne-based Politics Associate Professor Josh Roose said he also failed to see any ‘no’ campaigners at his suburban polling location on Saturday.

“It could have a marked impact in favour of the ‘yes’ vote, though it is doubtful given the polls whether that will be enough to turn it towards a ‘yes’ across the country,” he said.

A 'yes' campaigner hands a pamphlet to a woman voting at a polling location in Melbourne on Saturday.
A 'yes' campaigner speaks to a voter outside a polling location in Melbourne on Saturday. Source: AAP

Professor Roose said the “bulk of the no vote rhetoric has come from well-funded bodies” often backed by a few wealthy individuals, who have been “absolutely hitting” the airwaves and TVs with the ’no’ campaign message.

“However, whilst there is a lot of online rhetoric supportive of that, and it has obviously been influential in the polling, it doesn’t appear that this is the grassroots campaign that has been run by the ‘yes’ campaign.

“The reason I think that there are more likely to be ‘yes’ volunteers is because they are working toward a vision of the future and they are inspired by achieving change in a way ‘no’ campaigners are not.”

An anonymous ‘no’ campaigner interviewed by news.com.au at a polling location in Sydney claimed the group was “limited on resources compared to the ‘yes’ campaign” but remain “determined”.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.