Melbourne yesterday - for the seat of Melbourne in the state parliament. I believe it has only ever been held by the ALP (Australian Labor Party) and that they claim to have won it again - just - from the Greens. The Liberal Party did not bother to field a candidate. If they had done so and preferenced the Greens then Labor would almost certainly have lost the seat - to the Greens.
Normally a state by-election would not attract much attention - unless it was likely to bring about the downfall of a government. This one was not going to do that. All the same the event was given a great deal of media attention. The parties who participated deluged the electorate with information as well.
Despite that and despite our system of compulsory attendance at the ballot box voter turnout was low.... a mere 66%. The Victorian Electoral Commission will, apparently, investigate the reasons for this. They will no doubt send out many "please explain" letters to those whose names were not marked off the electoral roll. The excuses will be interesting.
"I didn't know there was an election."
"I was at the footy."
"I had to go to the vet/"
"I had a flat battery."
"I had to go to (name an adjacent suburb)"
"I did go but the queue was too long..."
"I slept in."
"I didn't know where to go."
"I didn't know you had to vote."
"I didn't know who to vote for."
Oh yes, they have all been used - and sometimes accepted. Even if they are not some people think it is worth paying $20 not to vote.
It made me wonder what would happen if we gave people the option of paying $20 not to vote? I wonder how many people would do it? I wonder how the political parties would react? What would the government do with all that revenue?