Nationwide voting opens for Australia's Indigenous Voice referendum

  • World
  • Saturday, 14 Oct 2023

CANBERRA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Polling booths across Australia have opened for the country's first referendum in the 21st century, with voters to decide on whether or not to establish an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Millions of Australians will on Saturday vote "yes" or "no" on the proposal to alter the constitution to recognize the First Peoples of Australia by establishing the voice, which would advise the federal parliament on all issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In order for the constitution to be changed, the "yes" vote must secure a double majority, meaning that more than 50 percent voters nationally, as well as a majority in at least four out of Australia's six states, must vote in favor.

In a final pitch to voters on Friday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the referendum was an opportunity for Australia to "do better."

"We have an opportunity for Australians to do better. To do better to show respect for the first Australians, but to do something for ourselves, as well, because we will feel better. We will feel better about ourselves on Sunday with a Yes vote," he said at a press conference in South Australia.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) personnel will start counting the votes as they close at 6 p.m. local time on Saturday.

According to the AEC, voting is mandatory for Australians aged 18 and over who are registered on the electoral roll (about 17.7 million people), while by the close of business on Wednesday, approximately four million people have voted at an early voting center.

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