Hundreds of young voters in Bendigo enrol to vote for same-sex marriage postal survey

The same-sex marriage postal survey prompted 550 people in Bendigo aged under 24 to enrol to vote for the first time, despite the vote being non-compulsory.
The same-sex marriage postal survey prompted 550 people in Bendigo aged under 24 to enrol to vote for the first time, despite the vote being non-compulsory.

MORE than 550 young voters have been added to the electoral role in the Bendigo electorate ahead of the same-sex marriage postal survey, and the vast majority are aged 18.

Figures from the Australian Electoral Commission show 450 18-year-olds enrolled to vote in Bendigo between August 8 and 24, when the non-compulsory postal survey was announced.

A further 57 people aged 19, and 51 aged 20 to 24, added their names to the electoral roll during the period.

Voters aged under 24 were comfortably the largest new voting bloc. Polling has suggested they are more likely to vote “yes” in the same-sex marriage postal survey, and the majority are likely to hold more progressive voting intentions than older voters.

A total of 712 people were added to the roll in Bendigo – 408 women and 304 men.

Bendigo had the fourth-highest number of new 18-year-old voters in Victoria. 

The Bendigo Advertiser spoke with a number of young voters attempting to enrol at the electoral office on Hargreaves Street on August 24 – and few said the looming same-sex marriage vote was their reason.

Cain Berry said he was simply replying to a letter in the mail from the Australian Electoral Commission.

“I’m doing it because I have to, I don’t have any particular interest in the issue,” he said.

Another young voter said he was likely to vote “yes”, but he was also responding to a letter from the AEC.

Neighbouring electorate McEwen, which takes in Gisborne, Lancefield and Seymour, had the highest number of 18-year-olds enrolling to vote during the period. The proportion of new young voters was similar across Victorian electorates.

There are now 111,957 voters enrolled in Bendigo, with 11,612 aged under 24. People aged 54-59, and above 70, are the largest voting groups.

The number of voters aged under 24 in Bendigo has increased steadily in the last four years, from 10,987 in 2014 to 11,612 in 2017.

The postal survey must be returned to the Australian Bureau of Statistics by October 27.

As of last Friday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics had received 9.2 million survey forms – about 57.5 per cent of the nation’s 16 million enrolled voters.

Polling suggests about 69 per cent of young voters, aged 18 to 24, have returned their surveys – more than double the same age group that took part in the Howard government’s 1998 postal ballot.

The result will be announced at 11.30am on November 15.