Public participation in politics is the foundation of democracy, and the right to vote in elections is therefore a key human right. Voting can take place in large national or regional elections. However, local community elections can also be vital for individual participation in government, and the rules under which one is required to live.

The right to vote is protected under international human rights law. The right must be established by law and provide ‘equal suffrage’, which means that all votes should have roughly the same value. The right to vote is also protected in Australia by the Constitution and legislation.

Can the right to vote be restricted?

Countries can restrict the right to vote. For example, the right is limited to citizens, which is different from other human rights, which are usually granted to everyone within a country’s jurisdiction. Limitations on the right to vote must be based on reasonable and objective criteria. For example, it is acceptable to set a minimum age to vote, but it is unreasonable to restrict people from voting based on conditions of literacy, education or property ownership.

What if it is difficult or complicated for me to vote?

Voters must have adequate opportunity to exercise their right. Countries must remove requirements that make it unreasonably difficult for people to vote. For example, complex or demanding voting rules can make it difficult for poorer, marginalised people to vote. A country must take special measures to help such groups of people to vote, including people with disabilities and those facing language barriers. 


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