Anybody can make their political opinions known at any time – that is the beauty of freedom of speech and a wonderful aspect of the vibrant democracy we live in.

However, if that opinion encourages others to vote in a particular way and appears in electoral campaign material (handbills, advertisements, pamphlets or notices), you must authorise it; that’s the law as it stands. We do not write the legislation, but we have a responsibility to ensure compliance with it. Changing the law is a matter for Parliament.

Authorisation is not about silencing or censoring personal views, it’s about making sure there is transparency around who is making political comment.

What is authorisation?

The purpose of authorisation is to make sure readers understand whose views these are – by simply adding the name and address of the person ‘authorising’ it. Readers can then make their own interpretation of the message and any agenda of those commenting.

How do I authorise electoral campaign material?

If electoral campaign material is printed in anything other than in a newspaper (for example a poster, billboard, flyer, or newsletter), the author's name and address (which can be a business address) must appear, along with the name and address of the printer. The act of adding your name and address is the authorisation.

This authorisation example can be used as a template:

“Authorised by [authoriser’s name], [authoriser’s address].”

“Printed/published by [printer’s/publisher’s name], [printer’s/publisher’s place of business].”

What electoral campaign material must be authorised?

Any electoral campaign material that is published and appears to be encouraging people to vote (or not vote) in a particular way must be authorised.

Who can authorise electoral campaign material?

The person publishing electoral campaign material relating to voting must authorise it – at any time, regardless of whether there is an election happening or not.

This requirement does not just apply to political parties and members of Parliament, it applies to everyone who publishes electoral campaign material about the way people should vote.

What is considered ‘publishing’ in an online context?

As Victoria’s electoral laws were drafted before the rise of social media, the meaning of ‘published’ has needed to adapt and includes the internet.

Our advice over the years to anyone posting electoral campaign material is always to authorise posts appearing on any online or social media platform (websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc).

In instances where the platform is short-form, such as Twitter, an authorisation can be made a number of ways by:

  • including a link in your post to a website containing the authorisation
  • including an authorisation in your profile's bio
  • pinning a post with an authorisation to the top of your profile.

Online authorisation is simply the author's name and address (which can be a business address).

This authorisation example can be used as a template:

“Authorised by [authoriser’s name], [authoriser’s address].”

There are no such provisions for talkback radio or news and current affairs programs as these are not considered publishing media.

What doesn't need to be authorised?

Printed promotional items such as bumper stickers, badges, shopping bags or t-shirts do not have to be authorised.

Does the VEC have to approve electoral campaign material?

No. We do not approve, sight or authorise any published electoral campaign material, we are only required to ensure it carries the name and address of the author.

Do how-to-vote cards need to be authorised?

Yes. In addition, if the how-to-vote card is to be handed out within 400m of a voting centre on election day or made available at a mobile voting centre, it must be registered with us.