Voters fooled by satirical Voice ballot paper that only offers ‘yes’ choice

Voters fooled by satirical Voice ballot paper that only offers ‘yes’ choice

What was claimed

The verdict

The ALP has approved a ballot paper for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum that only gives voters the option of voting ‘yes’.

Satire. An image of the Voice referendum ballot paper posted on Facebook is a prank that mocks the Yes campaign.

By Caitlin Cefai

A satirical post on Facebook that claims the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has approved the ballot paper for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament referendum is being taken seriously by some users.

The post, created by an anti-Voice supporter, shows an image of a ballot paper which only gives voters the option of voting 'yes'. The image was posted on May 30 by the Facebook page “Australia Wake Up.” with accompanying text that states: “Th [sic] alp has approved the voice ballad [sic] paper.”

The fake ballot paper directs voters to vote 'yes' if they are in favour of “proposed Constitutional alterations”, or vote 'yes' if they are not in favour of the proposed alterations.

It describes the “alterations” as a “change to the Australian Constitution which will allow privileges to a small section of population at the expense of the larger section. Details of the changes will be made available in due course, soon after the votes are counted and the changes accepted.”

Facebook post shows pink fake ballot paper for Voice referendum

The image carries the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) logo and uses a version of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) logo in the user’s profile picture. (When clicked on, this image reveals an anti-ABC graphic with the words, “Is that true or was it on the ABC?).

A spokesperson for the AEC told FactLab in an email the post “does appear like a piece of communication that the vast majority of people viewing it would know is deliberately inauthentic satire. However, we would of course condemn the use of any altered ballot paper image in communication – especially with an AEC logo and government crest included”. 

Comments posted by users below the Facebook post show that some people have questioned the authenticity of the image, while others have taken it seriously.

Commenting on the post, one user says, “This cannot be the ballot paper” to which the ‘Australia Wake Up.’ account holder replies, “you think?”.

Another user comments, “Albo and his Mob are pushing hell and high water for the YES vote to pass without telling the Australian people any details. That should be the first warning sign.” 

And another comments, “the way it's worded, to me, would make it easy for someone to mark the wrong box and I bet that is the intention of the mumbler”. 

One Facebook user wrongly claims the AEC was involved in the production of the fake ballot paper: “so, the Australian Electoral Commission is now promoting the indigenous voice how can this now be a democratic process how do we know the no votes will even be counted this process is now compromised can no longer go ahead”.

The original post has been shared 15 times, with several commenters believing the ballot paper is genuine, but one, however, replying, “I think it is a joke!!!” 

While the current spread of the fake ballot paper on Facebook is limited, the comments and shares on the post – and the fact that the image has already been posted on Twitter – suggest there is potential for people to be misled if the post spreads more widely.

The Voice to Parliament referendum is expected to be held between October and December this year. Australians will vote on whether to change the constitution to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice that would advise the parliament and government on matters relating to Indigenous people. 

The legislation to establish the referendum passed through the lower house on May 31, and will be debated in the Senate which is due to next sit later in June.


The verdict

Satire. An image of a Voice referendum ballot paper posted on Facebook that only gives voters the option to vote 'yes'  is satirical. But comments posted by some users on the platform show they believe it is genuine, suggesting that the post has the potential to mislead.

08 June 2023


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