Politics

The Government Admits It Fucked Up And Almost Let Kids Vote In The Marriage Survey

Whoops.

The government has been forced to issue a new direction on the marriage survey to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in order to make sure 16 and 17-year-olds were not accidentally given the right to vote.

As Junkee reported yesterday, some of Australia’s top legal minds were adamant that the government had accidentally granted young people the right to vote in its hastily issued direction to the ABS last week.

How Did The Government Fuck This Up?

The ministerial direction sent by Acting Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann defined who was able to take part in the plebiscite as “electors”. Those electors are anyone who is already on the electoral roll and, crucially, anyone who has “made a valid application for enrolment” before the deadline of August 24.

As political commentator Stephen Murray laid out in a comprehensive article on the issue, 16 and 17-year-olds are able to apply to be on the electoral roll. They aren’t able to vote until they turn 18, but they are legally permitted to enrol.

The legislation makes it very clear, numerous times, that 16 and 17-year-olds who have registered to vote are on the roll, which would appear to give them the right to take part in the postal plebiscite under the government’s current ministerial direction.

The government maintained that 16 and 17-year-olds were not permitted to vote, but legal experts said the claim was unlikely to stand up in court. It really, really looked like the government had fucked up.

So What Have They Done Now?

This morning, Cormann announced he had sent a new direction to the ABS to clear up the bungle.

“For the avoidance of any doubt and to make absolutely clear that to participate in this survey, Australians have to be enrolled on the Electoral Roll and be eligible to participate in a Federal Election by the end of 24 August 2017, I have issued a further direction to the Australian Statistician to make that intention absolutely clear,” Cormann said in a statement.

And just like that, 16 and 17-year-olds are out of the marriage equality survey. Of course, they would have overwhelmingly voted in favour of marriage equality, so this is yet another boost for the “No” side.

Remember, kids: enrol to vote NOW.