Polar polling

Expeditioners at Davis research station standing in line to vote at an election polling station on the sea ice.
Expeditioners at Davis research station will brave freezing temperatures and record their votes on the sea ice for the 2016 federal election. (Photo: Aaron Stanley)
Mawson electrician Shane Ness preparing to cast his vote in the 2016 federal election.Photo of voting at Davis

Australia’s remotest and coldest voting will occur at Australian Antarctic stations this federal election.

Mawson, Davis and Casey stations are registered as official polling places with an Antarctic Returning Officer and an Assistant appointed by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC).

Davis expeditioners will vote on the sea ice in front of the research station, with Antarctic Returning Officer Aaron Stanley overseeing proceedings.

Mr Stanley said the forecast was for freezing cold temperatures of around −20°C, but he didn’t expect voters to be deterred.

“The coldest day we've had here at Davis was a very cold −38.2°C in mid-June,” he said.

“You can feel every degree that it gets colder or warmer so hopefully the −20s should not deter many voters, but the wait times could be high as the senate ballot paper is very long.”

Mr Stanley is spending 11 months in Antarctica as a Bureau of Meteorology Technical Officer and is responsible for counting votes and phoning them through to the AEC.

“There is quite a lot of work involved including making sure the expeditioners are registered as an Antarctic elector, printing ballot papers, setting up the polling booth and ensuring all voting guidelines are followed,” Mr Stanley said.

“The Assistant Antarctic Returning Officer and I will then count the votes and phone them through to the AEC where they will be signed off by the appropriate Australian Electoral Officer.”

The ballot papers are sealed up and kept in a safe by the station leader and then returned to the AEC on the first voyage in November.

Mr Stanley said he was looking forward to voting on the icy continent.

“I am glad that I can still have my say whilst being so far away from it all. I’ve voted while on holiday in Malta before, but this is totally going to top the ‘best voting location’.”

With no live television on station, expeditioners will rely on the internet for the results of the election.