Saturday, 2 November 2013

Apparently 1375 votes have

gone "missing" in the recount for the Senate seats in Western Australian.
The recount was being undertaken after an appeal by two candidates. They were of course not happy with the original results.
There is a possibility now that the entire Senate election in Western Australia will have to be re-run.
That exercise would be very expensive and it might not produce the desired outcome for those who appealed against the original results.
There will no doubt be arguments in the media about what is the most "democratic" way of handling the problem.
What would be desirable outcome would be a review of our entire electoral system. It needs major changes.
Many people view our electoral system as free and fair and an excellent example of democracy at its best. Compulsion to attend the ballot box is seen by many as desirable and as is the compulsion to preference all candidates.
I disagree with both these things. There should be an absolute right to vote but no compulsion to attend the ballot box. There is no compulsion to vote. Nobody can force you to mark the ballot paper - although many people believe you must. What is needed is education about the importance of casting a vote and information about how to do it. There are provisions in the Electoral Act which actually hamper the Australian Electoral Commission from fully informing people about these things. That has to change.
And we need to do away with compulsory preferences. There is nothing democratic about this. The argument is that it allows people to get their second choice if their first choice is not elected. That is, of course, nonsense. If there is only one candidate you are happy with then you should not be required to go any further. If you could tolerate a second person then the option should perhaps be there but it should not be a requirement. As for "deals" with respect to preferences they need to be knocked out altogether. That is the only way to stop single issue parties with a tiny minority of the vote winning seats over multi-issue parties with almost an entire second quota in the Senate.
Voting in places like nursing homes also needs to be much more vigorously scrutinised. How many elderly people who are no longer competent to vote are still on the roll and have their votes used by others? I have been told "it's bound to happen and there is not much we can do about it". Is that good enough?
There are other people on the electoral roll who should not be there either. As soon as a death certificate is issued the relevant authority should advise the AEC so that the name is removed from the roll and cannot be used by others. Former students of schools I have taught in have had their names places on the electoral roll by their carers. Their vote is used by their carers and again nothing is done about it because of arguments that "these people have a right to vote" - yes, even if they do not understand what they are doing and you are doing it for them?
I could go on. I won't. What I will say is that there needs to be a major review of our electoral system. It is perhaps the one thing that the newly elected Clive Palmer and I would agree on. I suspect our way of handling the issues might be different but we would at least agree that there is a need for change.


Helen Devries said...

My father remembered the days of 'vote early, vote often'
when the dead would rise to vote in the shape of party workers.

There shoud be an absolute right to vote, but no compulsion...and certainly no compulsion to fill out a whole ballot paper.

catdownunder said...

The dead still vote here I suspect.