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Voting, census and jury duty

Voting

What is voting?

Voting in government elections is your right to choose who you want to represent you in the government.

Is my vote private?

Yes. Your vote is confidential, that means no one will know who you vote for.

Am I eligible to vote?

Yes, if you are 18 years and older and an Australian citizen and lived at your address for one month you can enrol to vote. Also some people who are British citizens and were on the Commonwealth electoral roll before 25 January 1984 and the Queensland electoral roll at 31 December 1991 can also be on the electoral roll.

Who is not eligible to vote?

If you are under 18 years old, not an Australian citizen, are of unsound mind, convicted of the criminal offence of treason or treachery you cannot enrol to vote.

If you are in prison, you can stay on the roll or apply to enrol. Prisoners serving short sentences will be able to vote. Prisoners serving a sentence of three years or more cannot vote.

When can a prisoner vote?

For Queensland State and local government elections:

  • You may vote if you have not yet been convicted and sentenced and you are being held on remand.
  • You are not allowed to vote if you have been convicted and are serving a sentence of imprisonment, regardless of the length of your sentence.

For federal elections:

  • You may vote if you are serving a sentence less than three years.
  • You are not allowed to vote if you are serving a sentence of three years or more.

You will still need to meet the other requirements to be eligible to vote.

Do I have to vote?

Yes, you have to vote in Federal, State and Local Government elections and referendums.

If I don't vote what happens?

If you fail to vote and don't have a good reason for not voting you can be fined.

If you fail to vote in Queensland State Elections you can receive an Apparent Failure to Vote Notice which asks you for your reason for not voting. If your reason for not voting is accepted the matter ends there. If it is not accepted you will be fined and you will have a short time to pay that fine.

If you don't respond to the Apparent Failure to Vote Notice or don't pay the fine, you will be sent an infringement notice. The infringement notice fine is double the Apparent Failure to Vote Notice fine. Your options at this time are to pay the fine or choose to go to court. If you don't respond to the infringement notice, your details will go to the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER). Additional costs will be incurred at this point.

If you fail to vote in Federal elections the Australian Electoral Commission will also send you a letter asking you to provide your reason for not voting. If your reason is not accepted you will get a fine. If you don't reply or pay the fine, you may be taken to court. If you are found guilty you will be fined and may have to pay court costs.

Who can give me information about enrolling to vote and voting procedures?

The Electoral Commission Queensland can assist you with enquiries about enrolments and voting procedures for the Queensland State elections.

The Australian Electoral Commission can help you with enquiries about enrolments and voting procedures in Federal Elections.

Census

What is a census?

A census is a compulsory survey the federal government conducts once every five years.

Do I have to fill in a census form?

Yes. You have to fill in a census. If you do not return a completed census form you can be given a notice in writing that says you are required to complete and return the form. If you fail to complete and return the census form you can be prosecuted and fined.

Jury duty

What is jury duty?

Jury duty is when a person is summonsed to court to be a member of a jury.

Who can be called to do jury duty?

If you are on the electoral roll you may receive a summons to attend court for jury duty.

Can I be excused from jury duty?

In some cases you can be excused from jury duty by writing to the Deputy Sheriff otherwise you will have to appear in court on the specified date. Once at court you can apply to the court to be excused.

What happens if I don't turn up for jury duty without being excused?

If you do not attend court without being excused you can be fined or risk being found in contempt of court.

Do jurors get paid for jury duty?

Yes, you are entitled to be paid for jury service and all meals will be supplied. If the jury is required to be locked up while reaching a verdict, you will be accommodated overnight.

My boss is not happy about me doing jury duty. Can I get the sack?

If you do jury service you cannot be dismissed by your employer because you were on jury duty.

You can find further information about being a juror on Queensland Court's website. See the Jurors Handbook.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you

  • have to go to court because you didn't vote in a federal election
  • are in trouble because you didn't turn up for jury duty without being excused
  • have been told by your employer that you will be sacked if you attend jury duty.

Get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may give legal advice about these areas of law.

The following organisations may also be able to provide you with legal advice.

Community legal centres may give free preliminary legal advice and information on some criminal law matters. Most CLCs do not provide legal representation. Check with your closest CLC whether they can assist with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor who can provide advice and representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to help with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Australian Bureau of Statistics provides a high quality, objective national statistical service used by governments and the community.

Australian Electoral Commission conducts federal elections, referendums and maintains the commonwealth electoral roll. 

Electoral Commission Queensland runs Queensland elections and maintains the state electoral roll.

Queensland Courts give information on a range of courts and provide an Information for jurors guide for people called to jury duty.

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