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A millennial-proof guide to voting in the marriage equality survey

4 minutes to read

Listen up young folks because the future of marriage equality is going to be in your hands (literally).

Provided you’ve enrolled to vote and made sure your details are up to date, you’ll soon be receiving something unfamiliar: a letter. Just like with Brexit, it’s entirely possible that the fate of marriage equality in Australia rests in the hands of the country’s young people.

Which isn’t great considering the rate of letter-sending among anyone under 30. Look, it’s pretty easy to make sure your (YES) vote gets counted in the excuse to get young people on the electoral roll Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey (that’s the official hoighty toighty name). But it’s also pretty easy to screw it up. Follow our straightforward, millennial-proof guide to voting correctly in the marriage equality vote.

Marriage equality
Make sure you know how to vote in the Australian Mawwiage Law Postal Survey

Getting your letter

From September 12 the Australian Bureau of Statistics (the ABS aka “those census people“) will be mailing out the surveys to all Australians who are enrolled to vote. Therefore it’s a pretty good idea to check your letterbox regularly from this date. Forms will be mailed out to remote areas first, and everyone eligible should have received their survey via post by September 25.


Once you’ve received your survey you only need to answer one question:

“Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

All you need to do to say yes to marriage equality is to mark the ‘YES’ box. That’s it.

marriage equality form
A sample Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey form

Technically you can draw dicks/swearwords/rainbows/Tony Abbott making out with Tony Abbott on your vote and it will still count so long as a box is clearly marked. However, to be certain that your vote for marriage equality is valid it’s best to only mark the ‘YES’ box.

The ABS has also warned people not to post photos of their survey online. The unique barcode that appears on every survey could in theory be replicated, meaning someone could potentially “steal” your vote if they sent in a form with that barcode on it before you. If you must Instagram the moment, take a photo of you sending the form instead.

Posting your vote

Then fold up your letter and put it inside the reply-paid envelope also included in the postal survey. You don’t need to stamp or address the envelope; just seal it up with your vote inside and take it down to your nearest post box or office (find your nearest one here).

Do not put glitter or anything apart from your completed survey inside the envelope. It will invalidate it.

Post your survey ASAP, the same day you receive it if possible. All completed surveys should be posted by October 27 to ensure they arrive by the ABS’s cut off time of 6pm November 7.

What the ABS offices will soon look like. Probably.

But I’m overseas/homeless/live in a remote Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander community/ otherwise unable to participate in a postal survey!

Anyone who is eligible to vote but for a valid reason will find it difficult to have their say via the postal survey will be able to contact the ABS by either phone or their website to request a ‘Secure Access Code’ from September 25 to October 20. This code means you’ll be able to take part in the survey over the phone, or online form.

For more information checkout the ABS’ website.

So when do we find out the result?

The result of the postal survey will be announced by November 15. 

If the survey returns a “YES” vote then the government has committed to introducing a private member’s bill to parliament that will allow MPs to lodge a free vote on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry (rather than having to vote along the party lines).

There’s still no guarantee that even with a free vote that marriage equality will go ahead (some MPs have already said they will ignore the survey’s results and vote for what their electorate wants). However, with the government committed to this $122 million opinion poll the best we can do to create a more equal Australia is vote YES.