Monday, 15 March 2010

"Compulsory" voting.

South Australians go to the polls to elect a new state government next Saturday.

I am required to attend the ballot box on Saturday. I object strongly to this. I would vote if it was not compulsory but I do not believe that anyone should be compelled to attend the ballot box. I do believe they should be educated about the need to do so and that they should be strongly encouraged to attend - and vote.

There is no requirement to actually vote. You must attend the ballot box, accept the papers and place them in the ballot box. You do not have to mark the ballot papers.

If you do want to participate then you must mark the ballot papers according to the instructions. It is not enough to put an "X" next to the name of the candidate you wish to represent you. There is a need to indicate your preferences all the way down the line. If your first choice does not win then your second choice might. If you put one in the box for the party above the line then you will vote according to their preferences. The alternative is to put a number in each box below the line. That could be rather a lot of numbers.

There is a great deal wrong with this system. It is far from democratic. One of the major problems is that people do not understand that they need not vote if they feel they are unable to support any of the candidates. This may be unwise. It may well be better to choose the least of all evils but it should be known as an option. There are many people who will always unthinkingly vote for the same party, even some who believe they 'must' and that there are ways of finding out for whom they voted. There are others who have no idea what they are voting for. They do not know the party platform or the candidate. Still others will think that someone 'looks nice' or 'looks untrustworthy' and will vote accordingly, still with no idea what the party platform is. It is scarcely informed voting - even if we could trust politicians.

There also comes a point where we should be able to say. "I will vote for X or Y to represent me but I do not wish to vote for any other candidate." I should not have to place any preferences for those who wish to extend the duck hunting season or legalise "pot" even if it is highly unlikely that those preferences will make a difference to the outcome of the election.

I will vote on Saturday and I will make my vote count - but I will not vote according to the instructions of any political party. I will vote according to my own wishes. It may not make a difference but I can at least put the the worst of the raving lunatics last.


Rachel Fenton said...

This is such a crazy system - the only purpose of it is as a hidden census of the population.

catdownunder said...

And that does not work because some people simply fail to enrol or re-enrol and there are groups who get exempted for religious reasons. It is an absolute mess but they scream "this is democracy at work"!