Thursday, 23 June 2016

We go to the polls

on July 2nd - to elect a new federal parliament. The polls are mixed  but, for the most part, indicate a "tight" race. Neither side has yet delivered a decisive blow - and perhaps they won't. There is talk of a "hung parliament" and about excessive power resting with smaller parties who are able to promise the earth (and beyond) knowing that they will never have to deliver it.
Both the major parties are lying in the lead up to the election. They are saying things they know are not true. They are also making promises they can't keep and don't intend to even try and keep. They are promising to spend money that don't have.
Yes, it is standard political game playing. I know that. Most people know. We will make our decisions based on any number of factors. I've done my homework. I'll try and make an informed decision and implement it on polling day. The Senior Cat will do the same. He is, even at 93, still taking an intelligent interest in what people are saying, doing, and demanding.
But, I still have a problem with all this. As I mentioned a short time ago it is my responsibility to ensure that some people with disabilities know how to fill in their ballot papers. Ballot papers for the Senate must now be filled in differently from before. This has confused many people. The advertising by the Australian Electoral Commission has confused them too - or is simply not reaching them. It isn't what they have been told to do for years.
We have given these people a vote. They have the right to a vote. And it has to be their vote. It can't be the vote of the people who care for them.
"What are they promising Cat?" one person asked me. He's smart enough in his own way. His reading skills are limited but he knows about differences and choice and party promises. 
I have explained. I know which way he voted last time because he asked me to go with him. It was, as far as it could be, an informed decision for him. He probably put more thought into it than many people who always vote for a particular political party without giving it any thought at all. 
"I don't understand Cat," someone else told me, "Can't I just put it there like always?" 
I explain again...and again. 
I have now printed off a list which shows the order the candidates appear on the ballot paper. It seems to me that this will be the easiest way to help those who can fill in their own ballot papers but still need some help. We can sit there with the list. They can decide and write the numbers next to their choice of candidates. They can take that list with them when they vote and simply copy the numbers into the relevant squares on the ballot paper. 
I mentioned this to the Senior Cat. 
       "I was going to do the same thing," he told me. 
Perhaps the AEC should have been suggesting this to everyone.


Adelaide Dupont said...

I would hope the AEC has information in Plain and Easy English and other languages.

[that would be the responsibility of the Australian Disability in Ethnic Communities council].

This is really an election for those who can count better than they can read - or even write.

Adelaide Dupont said...


A few days ago Antony Green posted a list for all the states and the Senate papers.

Have only just seen this, Cat!

catdownunder said...

I printed off the Senate list for our state some days ago. I'll use it to help people with disabilities mark their ballot papers (in the way THEY choose) - and I'll be voting below the line myself and still needed to consider my 11th and 12th candidates.

Jodiebodie said...

Hi Cat,

With so many candidates and parties, my approach is also to make a list and start culling the ones I definitely don't want to vote for and then work out from what's left, which order to vote.

I will use the links from the AEC web site to see what the parties' stances are on various issues to inform my vote. My vote is also informed by what I observe during the terms between elections because the minute the politicians get a whiff of an election campaign in the air, nothing they say can be taken seriously. I teach my children to take an interest in politics day-to-day and to consider how various policies might impact on their lives and also the lives of people in diffferent situations to them.

Politicians think young people are disengaged from politics. I notice the exact opposite. Young people that I meet are more politically aware than my generation was at the same age. In the main, they are intelligent, educated and they do care - it's their future after all. They do have opinions and ideas but who is listening? The politicians in government are dismissive and contemptuous to the views of young people. Is it any wonder that young people choose to express their views in other ways and not participate in a parliamentary system which is not serving their needs.

I wonder whether the tune would change if we reduced the voting age to 16 or 17?

The system is not properly serving the needs of people with disabilties either with many polling places and pre-polling places around the country not accessible to people with disabilities. I have been contacting candidates and representatives from both major parties about this issue. Disability advocates have been lobbying for accessibility and equity around elections for many election cycles before this one. There is no excuse. I expect every polling place in my area to be fully accessible by the time the next election rolls around.

Otherwise my experience of election day is positive. I rejoice in my privilege to be able to vote and have a say.

catdownunder said...

I noticed there was a short piece in the paper this morning about access to polling booths - and I have yet to check to be sure about ALL the local places. Another job for this week!