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This Guy Emailed The ABS About The Marriage Survey And Got An Incredible Response

"We have received no information about this at all."

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Australians have had a LOT of questions since the government's postal survey on same-sex marriage was announced on Tuesday...and a lot of them have been about how to vote from overseas.

@AMEquality should the postal vote go ahead, how will Australians overseas be able to vote?

@TimWattsMP @smurray38 Also, i just had a thought. What about people travelling overseas during the vote with no permament postal address?

@ABSStats will electors living overseas be sent an Australian Marriage Law postal survey?

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@AdamBandt Hey Adam, will the postal vote be available for Australians living overseas?

Can someone send me the link on how to vote overseas so I can retweet it and enroll? https://t.co/HrBNBhWh50

@AusElectoralCom how do I vote for the upcoming marriage equality postal survey from overseas?

Zac Gross, an Australian studying for his PhD in the UK, had a similar thought when he heard about the survey, so sent the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) an email on Wednesday.

"What is the best way to register an overseas (UK) address for the potential postal plebiscite?" he asked in an email seen by BuzzFeed News.

The latest from the ABS on the plebiscite. Reassuring.

"We have received no information about this at all," the ABS wrote back.

"Please visit http://www.aec.gov.au/ to update your details as an overseas voter. Information will be posted on that URL about the Postal Vote."

Gross told BuzzFeed News that he saw the initial email reply as "a sign that not many people knew what was going on".

"Certainly not the ABS, and maybe the powers that be had a plan, but they certainly hadn’t told anyone at the ABS about it, which is as bad as not having a plan in the first place," he said.

On Wednesday, finance minister Mathias Cormann said: "Where Australians overseas, who are on the electoral roll, have registered as an overseas voter and provided their overseas address, then the request for response will be sent directly to them."

Gross was in the UK for the last federal election and voted at Australia House in London, which will not be an option in the postal survey.

"You can notify the AEC that you’re overseas, but you can also register as a permanent postal voter with a registered address," he said.

"While I had registered overseas, I hadn’t registered as a postal voter, which I guess I’ll need to do in the next week or two."

Gross, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage, is confident he will be able to participate in the survey, but feared other people living overseas or travelling would not.

"If you weren’t watching Twitter when this all went down, or if you were travelling somewhere without a broadband connection, you’re going to be up shit creek in terms of participating," he said.

The Australian Electoral Commission tweeted that 68,000 enrolment transactions took place yesterday — mostly address updates.

Approx 68,000 enrolment transactions received yesterday compared to an average daily intake of 4,000. Majority address updates #auspol

BuzzFeed News has contacted the ABS for comment.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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