Key facts about postal plebiscite on same-sex marriage to make sure your vote is counted

Confused about the postal vote on same-sex marriage? Here’s some of the big questions about the survey and the answers you need to make sure your vote is counted.

Who will oversee the postal survey?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will be responsible for polling the country on whether the law should be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry.

Who will be able to vote?

The voluntary survey will cover all Australians on the electoral roll.

You are eligible to enrol if you:

  • are an Australian citizen, or eligible British subject,
  • aged 18 years and over, and
  • have lived at your address for at least one month.

If you are an Australian living overseas, you must have registered an international address to participate in the postal vote.

You can enrol to vote, or change your personal details, by visiting the Australian Electoral Commission website

When must I be on the electoral roll to take part in the vote?

You must be registered before 6pm on August 24 to participate. 

When will I get to vote?

Your ballot papers could arrive as early as September 12.

For your vote to be counted, you have until November 7 to post it back. A result would be returned by November 15. 

Read more: Same-sex couples talk marriage equality

Is voting compulsory?

Unlike at elections, where you are legally obliged to vote, you are not required to participate in the marriage survey. 

What happens next?

A majority of votes in favour of same-sex marriage is not enough to legislate it.

If the postal survey finds more than half of participants in favour, then MPs would be granted a free vote on a same-sex marriage bill. It is expected such a bill would pass both houses or parliament and become law. 

But one of the controversial parts of the postal vote is that MPs will not be bound to vote according to its result.

Read more: Bishop calls for respectful debate

Several MPs have already indicated they would still vote against same-sex marriage even if a majority “yes” vote was returned.  

Others have said they will respect the will of the majority of Australians. 

If the people vote "no" in the postal ballot, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated no bill would be put before the parliament.