The Yes campaign has been accused of using “misleading” campaign material after signs the exact same colour as the Australian Electoral Commission were spotted outside a pre-polling centre.
The AEC has called out Yes23 for the use of purple signs with white lettering after near identical signage was placed close to its own ‘voting centre’ sign at the early voting centre, which opened across the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria and West Australia on Monday.
“To be absolutely clear- the signs were erected by the Yes23 campaign, not the AEC,” it said in a statement.
The commission said the signs, which featured a “similar shade of purple to the AEC’s long standing branding”, could potentially “mislead voters about the source of a campaign message”.
It comes as images of purple Yes23 campaign material have been shared on social media.
In one image, taken in Victoria, two purple ‘Vote Yes’ signs were spotted alongside an almost identical AEC ‘voting centre’ sign.
“Almost a 100% colour range match between Vote Yes signs by Yes23 and the @AusElectoralCom “Voting Centre” signs in an image being shared on X by an early voter,” one person shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Another image shows Yes23 how-to-vote cards bearing the same shade of purple have also been handed out.
“Even Yes23 HTV’s are purple! I have worked enough election campaigns to know they cannot get away with this – referendum or otherwise,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“The AEC must insist Yes23 destroy all purple coloured signage and pamphlets, and if they refuse then seek an injunction as early as tomorrow.”
The commission said it had contacted Yes23 and requested it “rectify the situation by ensuring the signs are not placed in the proximity of AEC voting centre signs”.
In a statement to news.com.au, a spokesperson confirmed “Yes23 was made aware of this by the AEC and will rectify the situation”.
The AEC do not have any legal authority to prevent people from using particular colours however, it said it has been clear “over a number of years in communicating our preference that campaigner do not use” the purple and white combination.
The use of purple signage caused controversy during the 2019 election when corflutes resembling the AEC’s colour were posted at 13 polling stations in the seat of Kooyong and 29 polling booths in the seat of Chisholm in Victoria.
After the incident, the AEC said they “strongly urge anyone planning electoral communication activities at the next federal election to not use the colour purple or any other branding elements that could be perceived to imitate the AEC in any way”.
Residents in Northern Territory, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia began casting early votes from Monday, ahead of the October 14 referendum,
Those in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory will be able to vote early from Tuesday.