ABS says no cause for alarm as some residents around Bendigo report marriage survey anomalies

SIGNED, SEALED, (BUT NOT YET) DELIVERED: Elaine Herbert with the envelope in which she was preparing to post back her vote until the ABS told her to order an new survey pack. Picture: MARK KEARNEY
SIGNED, SEALED, (BUT NOT YET) DELIVERED: Elaine Herbert with the envelope in which she was preparing to post back her vote until the ABS told her to order an new survey pack. Picture: MARK KEARNEY

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reassured voters the marriage equality poll is on track despite some central Victorian residents reporting anomalies with their postal survey packs.

Epsom resident Elaine Herbert received her ballot paper this morning, only to find no reply paid envelope in which to return her completed survey.  

The pack contained just a voting slip and a page of information.

Despite being prepared to post the completed survey at her own expense, an ABS information line worker told her she should instead request a new pack – after September 25. 

“What worries me is, is there anymore people like me and will that be a fair vote?” she said.

“People won’t go to the trouble of (asking for a new form).”

Read more: ABS releases marriage survey form

Drummond North resident Paul Kidd was also surprised to receive his to his residential address, not the postal address registered with the Australian Electoral Commission. 

He worried it could mean voters did not receive their forms. 

But an ABS spokesman today said when 16 million surveys were being distributed it was likely there would be some glitches. 

But he said there was no need for alarm, with voters able to request a new survey be sent – this would invalidate any previous postal survey, he said.

He asked those experiencing difficulty phone 1800 572 113 or visit marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au. 

Participants should return their surveys by October 27 to ensure it is counted. 

The mass mail-out began just yesterday, but already many residents of Bendigo and its surrounds were posting pictures of their completed surveys on social media.   

All surveys were expected to arrive by September 25, the ABS spokesman said. 

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Ms Herbert, who was opposed to marriage equality, supported the public voting process.

The 75-year-old is president of the Strathdale Senior Citizens Club, and believe most of its 120 members were also opposed to changing the definition of marriage. 

“That was our era, it was how we were brought up,” she said.

Her concern was the use of the word “marriage”, saying she was not opposed to other formal recognitions of same-sex couples. 

But for Mr Kidd, receiving a survey that asked the public to determine whether he could wed his partner elicited an emotional response. 

“It was just like 'bang' in the guts,” he said. 

“It takes a lot to knock me around.”