The Australian Electoral Commission has told a Canberra man who fell ill with COVID on Monday he is unable to cast a vote in the upcoming election, owing to rules around registering for postal and phone voting.
Matt Allen said he tested positive for COVID on Monday night.
"[I] was pretty sick for a couple of days, so the last thing on my mind was navigating the AEC's complex guidelines and rules about how people who have got COVID and are going to be isolating on Saturday can actually vote," he said.
When he was well enough to make inquiries, Mr Allen learned he had missed the deadline to register for a postal vote, which closed on Wednesday at 6pm.
There is an option to vote over the phone, however, only those who tested positive for COVID from Tuesday 6pm onwards are able to register.
Caught in this limbo between postal and phone voting, Mr Allen said he was in a "ridiculous" situation.
"Some people have COVID and they're not very sick but other people are quite sick, and how can you be expected to be thinking about [how to vote]?" he said.
"And even if you are thinking about it trying to navigate all these complexities, when it's hard enough just you filling in the form to report it to ACT Health - it's ridiculous."
Responding to a query from Mr Allen on Twitter, the AEC confirmed the rule, as did a spokesperson speaking to The Canberra Times.
"Telephone voting is an emergency measure if you tested positive after 6pm Tues 17 May. If you don't meet this, you legally can't vote by phone," the AEC wrote to Mr Allen.
"Postal voting was the option for those who tested positive before then. Applications are now closed."
In a statement released on Wednesday, electoral commissioner Tom Rogers urged people to register for postal votes.
"If you tested positive to COVID-19 on Saturday, Sunday, Monday or Tuesday - and you haven't already voted - then I'd urge you to apply for a postal vote now," Mr Rogers said.
"Just like any aspect of society recently, if you have COVID-19 you have to plan more carefully. An election is no different."
Mr Allen said he was concerned about the potential number of people who could be affected by the voting rules, and the impact on the election.
The AEC has been contacted for further comment.
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