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Federal Election 2016: Postal vote warning

Do you need to do a postal vote? Pay extra attention to the self-addressed envelope that comes with the application form.

Political parties in Western Australia have conducted mass mail-outs in marginal seats, with an application form for a postal vote included with the election advertising material.

The form looks official, asks for sensitive personal information, and directs applicants to return the form to the Australian Electoral Commission. 

However, the self-addressed envelope included is not marked with the official AEC address. The envelope instead returns the form, and your personal information, to the political party’s headquarters.

Experts say the information is then added to voter databases, for the political party to use as it pleases. 

While the ethics of the practice are questionable, no laws are broken as political parties are exempt from the Privacy Act and the Do Not Call register. 

Dr Martin Drum, a politics expert from Notre Dame University Australia, told 6PR’s Chris Ilsley that parties go to great lengths to make the forms look ‘official’.

‘There are a number of different organisations from time to time that have tried to raise this issue and have it aired publicly,’ he said.

‘The Law Reform Commission was a good example, who said that the practice of gathering data by political parties without the knowledge and consent of members of the public was not appropriate.

‘They didn’t get very far, and one of the reasons is… I’d be very surprised if one of the parties in government, we’re talking Labor and Liberal, actually legislated against their own interests.’

Listen to the full interview below:

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