The Australian Electoral Commission is calling for civility ahead of Saturday’s Indigenous Voice to Parliament Referendum, amid a rise in hostile behaviour at pre-polling stations.
The commission says voters have seen acting confrontational and filming staff.
AEC Spokesperson, Evan Ekin Smyth has told NIRS News despite the vast majority of voters acting appropriately, people looking to disrupt the polling process should reconsider their actions.
“We absolutely ask people to consider what they’re doing if they are whipping their phone out and filming our staff.
Temporary members of staff are your neighbours, your community members, your friends, and your family, who put their hands up to administer a process.
A process that has been in place, since federation in Australia and has served Australia very well.
Please be kind to our staff.”
Some of the hostility is due to conspiracy theories, one of which suggests would-be voters should bring their own pens into polling places instead of using AEC supplied pencils so their answers can’t be erased and replaced.
Mr Ekin-Smyth says the concern is misplaced.
“It is a strange one, we’ve used pencils for more than 100 years for Australian elections which have been trusted and peaceful events.
They’re not rubbed out we have thousand of scrutineers involved in the process, a chain of custody once you cast your ballot paper.
It’s a theory that doesn’t hold any weight, I’m not sure why people do it, but hey, if you want to vote with a pen, go for your life.”
He says stopping misinformation can be challenging.
“You can almost play conspiracy theory bingo, to an extent of things that come up, they are known imported things that are not relevant .
How we interact with that is difficult, we certainly put the facts out there, objective facts about the process we run and we will continue to do that.”
Polls close for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament at 6pm local time on Saturday.
Mr Ekin-Smyth says depending on how tight the votes are we may not know the outcome for some time.
“Results are reported on in real time, it’s part of the great transparency of the event and the count.
People will get those results ticking in as we finalise counts in different polling places.
If the result is close, we don’t have all the postal votes in our possession, we don’t have the results from overseas voting places just yet, there’s some transport that needs to happen.
So if it’s close we’ll have more votes to count after the night.”