Australian election 2022 voting guide: everything you need to know, including how to vote if you have Covid

·9 min read

Here is everything you need to know about the voting process in the 2022 Australia election.


When is the election?

The 2022 Australian federal election day is Saturday, 21 May.

Which electorate am I in?

You can find your electorate by entering your address on this page on the AEC website. The results of the 2019 election in each electorate are on the commission’s Tally Room site, but bear in mind that boundaries of some seats in Victoria and Western Australia have changed since then. You can read about what those changes mean on the election blog of the ABC’s Antony Green.

Related:Australian election phone voting ‘won’t be smooth’ as Covid surge wreaks havoc on poll

Voting on the day

At the ballot box, you will be handed two pieces of paper.

The smaller is for the House of Representatives, which is elected using preferential voting. You must number every box in order of your preference for your vote to be valid.

The larger is for the Senate, which consists of 76 members, 12 for each state, and two for each territory.

On the Senate ballot paper, you can vote in one of two ways.

First, you can number at least six boxes above the line, indicating the parties or groups you prefer in the order of your choice.

Or you can vote below the line, meaning you are voting individually for the candidates nominated by each party or group. In this case you must number at least 12 boxes to cast a valid vote.

How do I vote if I have Covid?

The AEC has expanded the provision of voting by phone (traditionally used for blind or low-vision Australians) to accommodate people who may be required to isolate because they have Covid or they are a close contact of someone who does. However, it has warned the process may not be entirely flawless.

Originally the rules meant that only those who tested positive for Covid after 6pm on Tuesday 17 May would be eligible to vote via phone. However, after legal threats and complaints that the rule would effectively mean over 100,000 people would not be able to vote, the AEC indicated it would change the rules so that anyone who tested positive from 6pm on Friday 13 May can vote via phone.

How do I find the best polling booths for #DemocracySausage?

It’s a hallmark of Australia’s democratic process that once you complete your civic duty you are able to get a sausage sizzle or some other snack from one of the stalls at the place you’ve voted.

There is now a website you can go to if you want to find the best food available in your electorate.

It’ll tell you what is on offer, from sausage sizzles with vegetarian and Halal options, to cake stalls and lollies. It’ll also tell you whether there’s wheelchair accessibility and what hours the booth is open.

Some polling places have gone to a lot of trouble with their stalls in the past, so no doubt we will see some more of that on Saturday.

Seats to watch

There are some particularly interesting seats to watch this year. With more independents in the field, retirements of sitting members and minor parties joining the fray, previously safe seats are less predictable.

To form a majority government Labor needs to gain at least seven seats while the Coalition must offset any losses with gains elsewhere to stay in power.

In Queensland, the LNP’s hold on the seat of Brisbane is being threatened by both Labor and the Greens, and in the central seat of Flynn, the retirement of popular LNP MP Ken O’Dowd means One Nation and the United Australia party will have a big influence on Saturday.

In NSW both Labor and the Liberals are confident of picking up seats off each other. Lindsay, in Sydney’s west, has consistently swung with the winner for 13 of the past 14 elections.

Related:Final dash: Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese’s last day on the campaign trail

The Liberal incumbent, Melissa McIntosh, holds the seat with a 5% margin but Labor’s Trevor Ross is hoping to flip it red.

In Victoria, there’s a showdown between teal independents and the Liberal party. Monique Ryan is trying to oust the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, in Kooyong and former journalist Zoe Daniel is up against Liberal Tim Wilson in Goldstein.

There is also a close contest in Chisholm, which Liberal Gladys Liu won in 2019 with a slim 1,100 votes. She needs to keep every single one of them to stop Labor’s candidate Carina Garland snagging it.

And in Tasmania, the Liberal-held seat of Bass is under threat from Labor. The Liberal MP, Bridget Archer, won the seat in 2019 by just 600 votes. She’s been popular in the electorate, but that doesn’t mean she can fend off former member Ross Hart.

Who is leading the polls?

Despite a narrowing of Labor’s lead in opinion polls in the final week of the campaign, polling released on Friday suggested a surge in last-minute support for the Coalition would not be enough to see it retain government.

Polls from Roy Morgan and the Australian’s Newspoll released late on Friday showed a two-party-preferred vote of 53-47 in favour of the opposition – enough of a swing toward Labor for it to claim victory.

The Roy Morgan poll predicted Albanese would emerge from Saturday’s election with a majority, however the high level of support for minor parties and independents led the polling company to warn there was a strong chance its forecast majority win for Labor would not be definitively confirmed on the night, as preferences were distributed and postal votes counted.

The two polls follow Guardian’s Essential polling on Wednesday pointing to a similarly slim but sufficient Labor lead.

You can read more on the latest Essential poll from political editor Katharine Murphy here.

Can we trust the polls?

It’s a good question. Last time around all of the major polls predicted a Labor win and we know how that turned out.

But after Scott Morrison’s shock win in 2019 polling companies introduced new techniques to try to improve accuracy.

We won’t have to wait long to see if that has worked.

Elias Visontay has more on how polls have changed.

How do preferences work?

Australian citizens vote for their local members of parliament in the House of Representatives and their state Senate representatives via a preferential voting system.

In close contests, preferences could prove crucial to deciding which candidate is elected so it’s important to understand how it works.

In this TikTok Matilda Boseley explains everything you need to know before you hit the ballot box:

Some parties have done preference deals. For instance, the Queensland Liberal National party has decided to direct Senate preferences to One Nation and in return, the latter’s leader, Pauline Hanson, has said her party will direct preferences to help conservative Coalition members.

The Greens have said they will suggest their voters preference Labor before the Liberals across the country.

Labor is preferencing the Greens second for the Senate in every state and territory except Tasmania, where the Jacqui Lambie Network has been gifted the second spot, and the ACT, where independent David Pocock will get it.

Labor is also giving second spots to some teal independents in key battleground seats Wentworth, Kooyong and Curtin.

What is strategic voting and does it matter for me?

The number of campaigns from independents and minor parties this election means it will likely come down to preferences in key battleground seats.

This piece from Ben Raue outlines everything you need to know about preferences before you vote.

Who are all these minor parties in the Senate?

The focus this election has been on the battle to win government in the lower house. But the Senate will be crucial to what the new government will and won’t be able to do.

On Saturday your Senate ballot paper is likely to have a range of micro parties, all with niche interests. Josh Butler takes you through the minor parties and what they support.

Which media organisations are backing which parties?

It is customary for media outlets to publish an editorial backing one of the major parties before Saturday. You can read Guardian Australia’s view urging voters to say no to spin and inaction.

Nine’s Melbourne and Sydney mastheads are also backing Labor. The SMH argues a Coalition devoid of imagination does not deserve another term, even though it “shares the public’s lack of enthusiasm for Albanese and his timid opposition”. The Age says integrity is the overarching theme of the campaign and Morrison has failed on that.

However, the AFR, also owned by Nine, does not believe Albanese has made the case against Morrison or for himself.

The Australian is also backing a re-elected Coalition government, pointing to Morrison’s handling of the economy, the pandemic and national security.

Where can I watch/follow the election on the night?

The Guardian Australia live blog will bring you coverage from across the nation.

Antony Green will join Leigh Sales, David Speers, Annabel Crabb, Andrew Probyn and Laura Tingle to broadcast results on the ABC’s Australia Votes from 6pm on Saturday.

Over on Sky, Kieran Gilbert will anchor coverage from 5pm, along with Andrew Clennell, election analyst Tom Connell and Sky After Dark host Peta Credlin.

On Seven, political editor Mark Riley will lead coverage along with Natalie Barr and Michael Usher, also from 5pm.

Nine’s election programming also begins at 5pm with a panel hosted by Peter Overton and Alicia Loxley, and analysis from political editor Chris Uhlmann.

Ten’s coverage starts at 6pm and is hosted by Sandra Sully, Peter van Onselen, Waleed Aly, Hugh Riminton, Jan Fran and Narelda Jacobs.

ABC radio is offering live coverage too, hosted by Raf Epstein and Sabra Lane, with Thomas Oriti covering all the latest news on the night. Listen live via your ABC local radio station, ABC NewsRadio, RN or on the ABC Listen app.