As millions of postal survey forms asking if same-sex marriage should be legalised are sent to letterboxes around the country, some Canberra residents are receiving forms addressed to dead people.

Since the start of the $122 million postal survey on September 12, there have been some cases of people being sent forms to their household but addressed to residents who have died.

There have also been multiple instances of forms sent to former tenants after they have moved out, or residents receiving multiple forms addressed to them.

Canberra resident Catherine Beasley took to Facebook after her household received a survey form on same-ex marriage addressed to a now-deceased former homeowner.

same-sex marriage

“Got our postal survey, including one for the former of the house …who died eight years ago,” she said.

Hannah Zurcher was sent multiple forms to her Belconnen unit in the days since the start of the survey.

She said one of the forms sent to her was addressed to a former tenant who has died.

Ms Zurcher hasn’t opened the additional form or sent it back yet, and said it’s concerning some addresses have received multiple forms.

“If we’re going to claim that this is the best way to assess the feelings of the nation on same-sex marriage, we need to make sure we’re actually accurate and representative,” she said.

Glenn Harrison, Managing Director of The Australian Bereavement Register (TABR) data suppression file product, said the Australian government had set “a terrible precedent”.

“If the government doesn’t use suppression, why should marketers? Really they should have procedures in place to stop this kind of thing happening. It’s expensive and sends the wrong message to consumers and business alike,” he said.

* This article first appeared in The Canberra Times and was published on the 24th September 2017.