Saturday, 2 July 2016

We go to the polls today

and this time tomorrow we may know the results. If the result is as close as expected we may not. I'll leave it at that.
I can vote at one of several polling stations but I will avoid the one at the school, not because of the sausage sizzle or the cake stall - I would happily support the latter - but because there will be an even greater number of people there trying to tell me how to vote. I know who will be on duty at the polling place I will attend. They know me. They also know me better than to try and convince me - at the last moment - to try and change the way I intend to vote. 
I am prowling in there with my own "how to vote" card...or paper. I know what I want to do. I looked at it again this morning. It is still what I want to do. Nothing has happened overnight to change my mind.
I would like to see "how to vote" cards banished from within at least 50m of a polling station. I would actually like to see them banished on the day of the election.  How people vote should not depend on a piece of paper thrust at them as they walk into a polling booth.
There is a statistic somewhere to suggest that at least 19% of the electorate has not made up their mind when they arrive at the polling booth. It may be even higher than that. Other people will vote for "A" or "B" because they vote that way whatever the policies. It is the party they have always voted for. They don't think about it. They follow the how to vote card too.
I didn't get a vote until I turned 26. I was among the last who had to wait until they were 21 to vote. I left Downunder before I was on the electoral roll and, after I returned, I had to wait until I was 26 before there was an election. It was an odd experience voting that first time.  I felt uneasy as I passed by all the people trying to thrust pieces of paper into my hand. Had I been a mere 21 would I have felt even more intimidated?
Now I can prowl past all of them with a "no thanks" and "I know how I'm voting thanks". I know one person will give me a smile because he believes I will be voting the way he wants  me to vote. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. 
How I vote is my business and completely private while I can fill out the ballot papers myself. I know how some people are voting and that is between them and me. Nobody else will know. I don't need a how to vote card and neither do they. We have, each in our own way, thought about it.
We don't need "how to vote" cards.


jeanfromcornwall said...

Apart from the idea of universal suffrage, I think that the secret ballot was one of the most liberating things in our road to democracy. Not that we have got there yet!

catdownunder said...

We seemed to have ended up in an unholy mess Jean.

Jodiebodie said...

Thank goodness for the secret ballot although not everybody in Australia gets to have a secret ballot. The Australian Electoral Commission seems to think it is ok for people unable to access a polling place to vote in their car and entrust their ballot to someone else to put in the ballot box. To be expected to vote without the same privacy as everyone else and have a total stranger take the ballot paper is not Ok. It is a potential channel for corruption of our democratic system. Remember, a bunch of ballot papers mysteriously went missing during the previous election. I've also heard of vulnerable people being coerced to vote a certain way by the people who are supposed to be helping them in an impartial way. We still have some work to do to make the voting system fair and accessible for all.

Jodiebodie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
catdownunder said...

Oh right Jodie - your experience this time? I am going to make a submission to the Senate Standing Committee. How about you sending them one too?