The Yes23 campaign has quietly deleted a deceptive social media post after it came under fire for a misleading graphic that potentially jeopardises the validity of No campaign votes.
The contentious graphic, featuring a prominent cross next to 'Vote No' and a tick next to 'Vote Yes', sparked widespread confusion.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has instructed that voters must write either 'Yes' or 'No' in English, without resorting to ticks or crosses.
The misleading graphic also featured purple colours similar to the AEC's official branding, giving room for confusion among voters, with many on social media arguing the post is highly dubious, calling out the move as a deceptive tactic to 'trick voters,' especially those whose English is not their first language.
A "cross" could also signify a check mark, the AEC has previously stated, meaning the vote is likely to be deemed informal.
A "tick" however, the AEC deems "more universally indicates approval" and could possibly be subject to "savings provisions" - the "ability to count a vote where the instructions have not been followed but the voter's intention is clear".
The Yes23 campaign's use of purple hues, eerily similar to the AEC's branding, raised concerns about voters mistaking their signs for official AEC communications.
Instances of identical purple 'Vote Yes' signs and how-to-vote cards further intensified the controversy, prompting the AEC to intervene.
While the AEC says it lacks legal authority over specific colors, it stated its preference against using the purple and white combination, recalling past controversies in the 2019 election.
Responding to the situation, the AEC contacted Yes23, urging them to relocate their signs away from AEC voting centre signs.
Yes23 confirmed they would rectify the situation, but concerns persist regarding the potential impact on the referendum's integrity.
As early voting continues across several states, this episode serves as a reminder of the importance of transparent and unambiguous electoral communication.