Non-voters are fined $76,000

January 12, 2018

A man casts his vote for the Murray River Council election at Moama Primary School. Photo by Luke Hemer.

MORE than $7 million worth of fines were collected in Victoria from people who failed to vote in the 2016 local government elections.

As of January 1, 2018, $17,521,376 in penalties has been collected and will be forwarded to councils,

In the Campaspe Shire the Victorian Electoral Commission issued 1955 voter infringements worth $76,407.

Across the state, 430,262 infringement notices were issued.

In the Greater Bendigo area, 7878 people received infringement notices, equating to $292,406 in fines.

Bendigo had a 74.2 per cent voter turnout and Campaspe had a turnout of 75.6 per cent, both just higher than the state average of 72 per cent.

Campaspe Shire mayor Adrian Weston said voting in local government elections is compulsory and also provides an opportunity for voters to have a say in who is elected to council.

‘‘The follow up of non-voters is the responsibility of the Victorian Electoral Commission and council plays no role in the follow up,’’ he said.

‘‘Council would prefer to see as many eligible voters as possible cast their vote.

‘‘Council is pleased that the voter turnout in the shire was greater than the state average and believes it is an indicator that the community like to have their say.’’

If a voter did not respond to an “apparent failure to vote notice” or if their excuse for failing to vote was not sufficient, they were sent an infringement notice worth $79 as at July 1, 2017.

People who did not pay the fine by the due date were then sent a penalty reminder notice with $23 of extra costs added on.

If fines were still not paid after the reminder, details were provided to the Infringements Court resulting in further action or higher fines.

The VEC said 224,478 outstanding infringements were lodged with the Infringements Court in August.

As of 2015, the VEC conducts all compulsory voting enforcement for local government elections.

Previously, the VEC issued notices on behalf of councils with court files passed to councils to decide how these matters were prosecuted.

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