At the last federal election, in 2016, 94,620 people voted in Fowler -- 9850 of whom voted informally, whether by design or default. That's 10.41 per cent of the votes cast that didn't count.
In a move to reduce that figure this time, sitting Labor MP ChrisHayes -- who won last time with 51,559 votes (or 60.82 per cent) -- has been meeting locals to explain how to "Make Your Vote Count".
On May 8, 70 members of the Cambodian community attended a bilingual information session in the Anglican church hall at Cabramatta to hear Mr Hayesexplain.
The session was jointly organised by the KhmerCommunity, the CambodianAustralianWelfareCouncil and the CambodianBuddhistSociety to try to reduce informal voting.
Societypresident ThinEm said: "We especially wanted to reach older members of our community, who may not be fluent in English. It's even more confusing for them because they've just voted in the state election and the federal election is different."
Mr Hayes patiently took the group through the steps in filling out voting slips correctly, reminding them that on May 18, they have to number each box on the voting slip for the lower house for their vote to count.
A lively question-and-answer session followed.
Virak Um, who acted as interpreter, said people told him afterwards how appreciative they'd been that r Hayes had come talk to them.
"People in our community take the responsibility of voting seriously," he said. "They felt his explanation made it very clear and now they know what to do."
One participant, LidaSo, was impressed that Mr Hayes took her questions seriously and she said having an interpreter made all the difference.
Mr Hayes also spoke to the group about his passion for the cause of human rights and his concern for the future of democracy in Cambodia. He was applauded as he promised to be active in the fight for human rights and be a voice for the Cambodian community in Parliament if his party was elected.
At the end of the meeting, SornYin, president of the Khmer Community, thanked Mr Hayes for talking to them and for his support for human rights. "We're lucky to live here where we can vote freely for whoever we choose," he said. "You've helped all of us understand how to ensure our votes count."
The session was live-streamed for those at home and the video was posted onto the group's Facebook page.
- Khmer Community of NSW: facebook.com/KhmerCommunityofNSW.
- Video of Chris Hayes' session: facebook.com/KhmerCommunityofNSW/videos/449802339114757.