Mail returned to sender gives non-voters a pass

SEVEN Hinkler constituents have escaped further punishment after summons to appear in court regarding failure to vote in the 2013 Federal Election were sent back to the Australian Electoral Commission.
SEVEN Hinkler constituents have escaped further punishment after summons to appear in court regarding failure to vote in the 2013 Federal Election were sent back to the Australian Electoral Commission. Christopher Chan

SEVEN Hinkler constituents have escaped further punishment after summons to appear in court regarding failure to vote in the 2013 Federal Election were sent back to the Australian Electoral Commission as return to sender mail.

However four others had penalties increased to $170 and were also ordered to pay $93.40 in court costs in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court last week.

Of those four, only one non-voter had been in contact with the AEC, admitting guilt via written correspondence, while the other three did not appear in court on Thursday.

A spokesman for the AEC said where proceedings were initiated for failure to vote at the 2013 election, delivery of a summons to the individual was affected.

"In this instance, in seven of the eleven cases, the summons was received back to AEC as return-to-sender mail," he said.

"This matter was dealt with by the magistrate who agreed to discontinue proceedings on these matters."

A conviction was also recorded against those four deemed to be guilty of not voting and failure to pay the now court imposed fines could land non-voters in even more trouble.

The AEC spokesman said the matters now lay in the hands of the court.

"It should be noted that if a non-voter has been convicted and fined by a court, and the non-voter decides not to pay the fine, then it is for the court to decide what action should be taken or if a further penalty should be imposed," he said.

"The action taken by the court in relation to fine defaulters may vary depending on the state or territory in which the conviction is recorded, and may involve community service orders, seizure of goods, or a short period in jail.

"In some jurisdictions the court may have no alternative to ordering a jail sentence for fine defaulters. However, this is a matter for the courts and not for the AEC."

The AEC spokesman said the AEC initiates court action where required, and may prosecute non-voters who have failed to respond to penalty notices from the AEC, or cannot provided a valid and sufficient reason and have declined to pay the $20 penalty.

A second notice of $50 was sent to non-voters and went unpaid before the matters were escalated to court proceedings.

The 2013 Federal Election saw 94.53% of Hinkler electorate voters have their say, with 5168 of the 94,495 enrolled failing to vote on September 7.

Topics:  election federal vote

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