Marriage equality campaigners have been energised by today’s initial indication that more than nine million Australians have already participated in the national postal survey on same-sex marriage.
Polls show around 60% of Australians favour same-sex marriage but turnout has been a major question over the outcome of the survey, in which a Yes result would be expected to see same-sex marriage quickly legalised in Australia, possibly before Christmas.
With broad community support so high, a strong turnout increases the chances of a win for the Yes campaign, so equality campaigners have been welcoming today’s news that around 9.2 million postal survey forms have been returned — representing around more than 57% of the total number of people eligible to participate.
This is a big number. A turnout of 57% would be regarded as high in an election where voting is not compulsory. Turnout in the 2016 US presidential election was estimated at 55%.
GetUp marriage equality director Sally Rugg said today the participation rate would probably exceed the turnout in Ireland’s referendum on same-sex marriage in 2015, where turnout was just over 60%.
“We’re witnessing something extraordinary. The level of public excitement for marriage equality is overwhelming,” Rugg said.
Rugg added: “We were initially concerned about the vote being held via the post because the extra hurdles of updating enrolment and remembering to post a letter, so it’s heartening and exciting to see such huge participation in the survey.
“Feedback from our volunteers making phone calls suggest Australia is saying Yes to love, Yes to fairness and Yes to equality.”
Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign, Anna Brown, said: “This turnout is a powerful sign of how the millions of respectful conversations that have taken place at kitchen tables, workplaces and across every community have motivated people and allowed them to see that marriage equality is not a what, it is a who.”
The ABS will be providing weekly updates on the progress of the survey. It said that today’s estimate was “indicative only” as it was “based on the bulk containers of returned forms and not a count of individual or processed forms.”
The count also did not include “forms that have been posted but not yet delivered by Australia Post to the ABS”.
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