The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has confirmed to BuzzFeed News that ballot papers with graffiti on them will be considered valid in the upcoming same-sex marriage postal survey, as long as a "yes" or "no" vote is clearly legible.
Last week the government announced it would conduct a postal survey through the ABS to determine whether it should allow a conscience vote in parliament on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Ballot papers will be posted to all registered voters from September 12 and must be returned by November 7.
The ABS will not count any votes received after 6pm on November 7, and will announce the survey result on November 15.
The ABS confirmed to BuzzFeed News the same graffiti rules apply to the postal survey as the federal election run by the Australian Electoral Commission, where dicks on ballots are common.
Decorated ballot papers will still be counted as a formal vote, as long as they have a readable "yes" or "no" vote.
"Survey papers will be processed and interpreted by a clearly legible mark in either the 'yes' or 'no' box," a spokesperson for the ABS told BuzzFeed News.
"Graffiti on survey papers could have implications for their validity if a clear 'yes' or 'no' response cannot be determined. If a 'yes' or 'no' response cannot be determined, the form may be deemed invalid."
The ABS said there will be be staff on hand to interpret the ballot papers as they are counted. However, if you spoil your ballot, you can only request a replacement until 6pm on October 11.
So, if you feeling like doodling a picture of Kevin Andrews marrying his bicycle on your ballot paper, your vote will still be counted.
However, if you include glitter in your return envelope, the ABS has warned it's likely your ballot will be destroyed.
The ABS told BuzzFeed News that any extra material in the envelope other than the survey response will be destroyed and, "due to processing machinery or possible contamination, may result in the survey form also being destroyed and therefore not processed".
Do you have questions about Australia's upcoming postal survey on same-sex marriage? Same. Here's a list of everything you need to know, and more.
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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