The Desirability and Feasibility of Convenience Voting in Australia Project

Matthew Laing, Narelle Miragliotta and Paul Thornton-Smith

Our study used a mixed method research design to explore how voters, legislators and electoral commissions perceive the challenges presented by the extension of convenience voting – both in terms of its growing use among electors and the liberalisation of its forms.

The findings suggest that these groups perceive the challenges associated with the expansion of convenience voting differently.

  • Voters showed awareness of the possible security risks associated with newer forms of convenience voting but trust that electoral authorities will manage and mitigate these hazards. Voters gave priority to a flexible voting experience.
  • Legislators expressed concern that convenience voting limited their opportunities to engage with voters during the election campaign period, especially early in-person voters. Many also gave voice to fears that convenience voting will erode democratic engagement. Legislators had a more cautious outlook towards convenience voting, placing a higher value on the security of ballot over voter convenience.
  • Electoral authorities stressed the multifaceted logistical challenges that the expansion of convenience voting presents for the integrity and efficiency of the electoral process. Their concerns centred on the management of these complex processes. Authorities emphasized the importance of enhancing the voter experience and the electoral process more generally. They sought to balance the goal of convenience against the values of security and efficiency.

Unsurprisingly, the stakeholders’ construction of the challenges that convenience voting can give rise to was consistent with their particular relationship to the electoral process. Yet leaving aside these differences, all agree that a paradigmatic shift in voting is ultimately underway.

The final report for this project is available here.