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Early voting to get under way for voice referendum

Andrew Brown -

The prime minister remains optimistic about large swathes of undecided voters turning the tide in support for the Indigenous voice, as early voting for the referendum begins.

Pre-poll voting opened on Monday in four jurisdictions ahead of the October 14 referendum, which will determine if an Indigenous voice to parliament and executive government will be enshrined in the constitution.

Voters in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia were eligible to vote on Monday.

Early voting will open up to NSW, the ACT, Queensland and South Australia from Tuesday, due to Monday being a public holiday in those states and territories.

As the referendum date approaches, Anthony Albanese said he was confident voters would focus on the question at hand.

"A lot of people have not made up their mind, and what I know (from) the feedback is when people talk through these issues they arrive at a 'yes' vote pretty comfortably," he told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

"The key to the next fortnight is those one-on-one conversations with people to accept this request of the overwhelming majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

Polls have shown the 'no' campaign ahead in popular support ahead of the referendum.

Despite the figures, the prime minister said the public had responded positively to the 'yes' campaign.

"No country was ever made more great by agreeing to a fear campaign. To enlarge a country you need optimism, you need hope, you need a vision for the future and that's what this referendum is," he said.

"People have noticed the positive nature of the 'yes' campaign, compared with some of the negativity that is there in the 'no' campaign."

Australian electoral commissioner Tom Rogers said voters should plan ahead for where they are going to cast their vote.

"If you can vote on October 14, then that's what you should do," he said.

"However, if your circumstances might prevent you from doing that, then you need to think about the early voting options available and vote according to your circumstances."

The electoral commission has already started carrying out voting in remote polling locations across the country with the referendum having the largest number of eligible Australians on the electoral roll.

The commission said 97.7 per cent of eligible Australians are enrolled to vote, an increase of more than 447,000 from last year's federal election.

Indigenous enrolment is also at a high of 94.1 per cent, while 91.4 per cent of Australians aged 18 to 24 are also enrolled.

Nationals leader David Littleproud said many residents in remote and regional communities were not aware of the referendum.

"There's even a cohort that haven't even been made aware that there is a referendum and there's a vote in two Saturday's time," he told Sky News.

"It's important the AEC works very hard now to make sure that Australians understand they can go and vote from now on and they can do it early if they please."

Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said there were questions about the voice that remained unanswered.

"It's unfortunate we're here, we should have been doing this in a bipartisan way, but the prime minister chose another route, another path," he said.

"Sadly, we're going to see the voice go down and all this effort that's gone into this is going to come to naught."

13YARN 13 92 76

Aboriginal Counselling Services 0410 539 905

Andrew Brown - AAP


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