Sydney, Australia, Oct 2 (EFE).- Australia began early voting on Monday for a historic referendum to establish an Indigenous parliamentary voice, recognizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the country’s constitution.
The referendum, which will determine the creation of an Indigenous advisory body for legislations, is scheduled for Oct. 14.
However, the nation’s electoral commission has set up numerous polling booths across the country, enabling citizens to cast their votes ahead of time.
Early voting is available in the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia on Monday.
Similarly, early voting centers will open in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory on Tuesday.
Eligible early voters for early voting include those living outside their voting constituencies, people more than eight kilometers away from a polling place, travelers, those unable to leave work on voting day, citizens with serious illnesses, and those serving prison sentences of less than three years.
Some 17.7 million citizens on the electoral rolls are called to vote, with non-compliance resulting in a fine of AU$20 ($12.9).
Voters will choose between “yes” or “no” to approve “A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
This initiative aims to establish an independent body, often referred to as “The Voice,” tasked with representing Indigenous Australians and providing advice to the government and parliament on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
If approved, the body will form part of a new three-point chapter to be included in Australia’s 1901 constitution, entitled “Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples – 129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.”
However, early polls indicate uncertainty regarding the proposal’s success.
The referendum, endorsed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, requires more than 50 percent of the vote nationwide and a majority in at least four of the six Australian states.
The constitutional recognition of Aboriginal peoples was a key promise in Prime Minister Albanese’s 2022 election campaign.
Indigenous peoples, constituting 3.8 percent of Australia’s 26 million population, have endured mistreatment since colonization, in addition to land dispossession and systemic discrimination by institutions, organizations, and society. EFE