Sunday, 16 March 2014

I heard only a small amount

of the ABC's analysis of the election results last night. It may be a week or more before we have a result. It looks tight.
What I did hear however also disturbed me. One of the panel, the man who has been the Attorney-General, was complaining about the number of people who had cast postal or pre-poll votes. Postal or pre-poll votes are supposed to be available to the elderly (in nursing homes), the disabled (who find it very difficult to get to a polling booth) and those who will be away from the electorate or working such hours they cannot attend a polling booth.
Apparently many more people than that are now "voting early". Our panel member did not like this. He said it was a "life-style" choice and it had to be stopped. He wants people to turn up on the day. The reason for this is that results will be known more quickly. In a "tight" election, like this one, he sees that as an advantage. And yes, of course it would be nice to know.
But, is it democratic? No, of course it isn't. There is already an undemocratic requirement for people to attend the ballot box. (Please don't misunderstand me here. I believe people should vote and should be encouraged to vote. I don't believe they should be compelled to vote.) Requiring more people to give up time on a Saturday - when many more now work on Saturdays - or find time when they have to fit voting in to an already crowded schedule of shopping, school sport, ballet lessons etc. would not be popular.
It would add, just a little, to the queues and the time required. It adds to the pressure to mark the ballot paper just as the major parties (for whom most people vote) want in a system which not only requires compulsory attendance at the ballot box but compulsory preferencing of all candidates. If you want to take the time to do it your own way (as I do) then you are likely to feel under even more pressure.
Our electoral system needs some major changes. I don't doubt these will also be resisted by the panel member in question. He almost certainly believes that the current system benefits his party. It does. That is why it needs to change.


catdownunder said...

I should add to all this that, on Saturday, I was physically assaulted at the polling station. A member of the staff grabbed me by the arm and pushed me in the direction of the desk where voters collect their ballot papers. Apparently I was being too slow for her liking. I know I am not fast on feet but I am faster than some people and, in this instance, I was also moving at an appropriate speed. I have advised the Electoral Commission of the incident. It will be interesting to see if they follow it up.

Anonymous said...

L am sorry to read of your mistreatment.

In the last election I put 116 candidates in order. I could have voted "above the line" so that if my preferred candidate did not win, my vote would have been processed according to his/her party's wishes, not mine.

I heard of several people who had voted by mail because voting by mail enabled them to cast votes after careful consideration and much research at home. I think I will do this in future, as it would mean my vote was much more accurately showing my choice.


catdownunder said...

I voted below the line in the Federal election - took me a long time but I had my own views and stuck to them!

widdershins said...

Not having to vote completely bewildered me when I first got here. And considering that 39% of the population voted in our current majority government, I'd say that compulsory voting has it's attractions!
I don't know what the answer is, but I suspect it's something along the lines of throwing out the baby AND the bathwater.