Here's when you should have your same-sex marriage postal ballot - and what to do if it's missing

Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe features in an marriage equality ad for the yes campaign. Source: screenshot

If you still haven’t received your ballot paper in the Australian marriage law postal survey, don’t panic – the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is sending out the voting papers on a staggered delivery schedule over two weeks, which means the last of them aren’t being dispatched until September 25.

Given the speed Australia Post moves at nowadays, that means you might not get yours until September 30. So don’t worry if your friends on social media start posting their ballot paper – yours could still be on its way (they appear to be only just starting to arrive in Sydney this week).

But more importantly, if your ballot paper hasn’t turned up by the end of next week, or you’ve moved home, and didn’t update the address on the electoral roll, or have a damaged or spoiled form, you can call 1800 572 113 or do it online at www.marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au. Requests for new survey materials open on September 25 and close on Friday, October 20, at 6pm (local time).

ABS deputy Australian statistician, Jonathan Palmer, who’s leading the survey taskforce, said people who hadn’t received their forms should wait until September 25 before requesting new survey materials.

“We’re aware that there are people who’ve moved house and haven’t updated their address on the Electoral Roll,” he said.

So you can contact the ABS on 1800 572 113 and they’ll send a new survey.

“A replacement form will be sent to their current address and the form sent to their old address will be made invalid,” Palmer said.

While debate rages about the impact same-sex marriage will have, the question you have to answer is a simple one: “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

You mark either yes or no in the boxes below, pop the form in the the reply paid envelope and mail it back. There’s no need for a stamp. It’s a voluntary survey, so you can choose to not respond.

While the survey closes at 6pm on November 7, the ABS is recommending people post their forms back by October 27 – so even they’re allowing a generous buffer of 10 days for the postal service to get the job done. Send it back straight away is their advice.

Only people who were enrolled by August 24 are eligible to vote and the bad news for people who turn 18 in the window between that date and November 7 is that you fall between the cracks and don’t get the chance to have your say.

If ill-health or a disability, such as a visual or hearing impairment, is an issue and makes completing the ballot difficult, you can contact the National Relay Service for help and a secure access code, which can be used to give your response anonymously via an automated telephone service, online form or the ABS assistance team.

The results of the survey will be published on the ABS website on November 15, 2017.

If the answer is yes, prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had said he plans to introduce legislation to approve same-sex marriage to parliament for a vote by the end of 2017.

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