Same-sex marriage postal votes have ‘BUMSEX’ written on barcodes


The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has been left embarrassed as ballots for the same-sex marriage survey with “rude” words hidden in the barcodes have been sent out.

One citizen was shocked when the letters in their barcode spelt out “BUMSEX”.

Bumsex barcode

(Photo by wheelswordsmith/Twitter)

A picture of the barcode was shared on Twitter by a friend of the citizen.

“I don’t think you guys are taking this thing seriously,” they wrote.

The picture has since been retweeted thousands of times as people found the error hilarious.

Jonathan Palmer, a deputy statistician for the ABS, has apologised for the error.

“The ABS acknowledges that in issuing 16 million barcodes it did not check and remove words and phrases that may be offensive.

“The ABS apologises to the survey recipient and will issue a new form if requested.

“The codes were issued using an algorithm generating more than two quintillion combinations of letters and numbers in order to generate highly secure barcodes.

“The ABS will check newly issued barcodes.

“Anyone with any concern about their barcode should contact the ABS on its Information Line or website for a new one.”

Palmer added that citizens should not “compromise” the privacy and security of their vote by publicly sharing the barcode.

March for same-sex marriage in Sydney

(Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

On Twitter, some people have questioned how probable it was that the word would appear based on the algorithm.

They guessed that “BUMSEX” probably wouldn’t be the only “rude” word.

“With 10 million ballot papers, that’s a 1/200 chance, and there are probably more than 200 terms that could have come up,” one person explained.

However, some found it hilarious.

“It would have been far more Australian had it been “BUMSEXM8”,” one said.

Another added: “Randomness is sometimes pretty awesome. Can’t. Stop. Laughing.”

More than 16 million surveys were sent out earlier this month.

The closing date for the survey is November 7 with a final count expected by mid-November.

The survey has caused controversy in the country as the Yes and No campaigns do not have to abide by normal election laws because the vote is being held by the ABS rather than the government.

It’s estimated $122 million will be spent on the vote which is not legally binding.