Documents obtained by the ABC have shown correctional services in several states barred Australia Electoral Commission staff from entering prisons to allow prisoners to vote.
The AEC documents – obtained under freedom of information legislation – reveals potentially thousands of prisoners were prevented from voting in the 2010, 2013 and 2016 elections.
One memo obtained by the ABC shows the head of the Queensland Corrective Services would no longer allow mobile voting booths in prisons because they were “resource-consuming” and a security risk.
In NSW less than one per cent of more than 10,000 voting enrolment packs were completed and returned for the 2013 election.
Brett Collins of the prisoner advocacy group Justice Action says prisons have a responsibility to encourage prisoners to vote.
In Australia prisoners serving sentences of less than three years – roughly 78 per cent of all prisoners in Australia – must vote in federal elections.