Having to decide between Tweedledum and Tweedledee – that’s not a choice – that’s a threat…We can’t keep jumping from election to election, voting for one moron because we’re terrified that there’s something worse
– The Edible Ballot Society
In Australia, it’s compulsory to vote. You get fined if you don’t. My brother told me that if you’re fined, you can provide pretty much any excuse and the fine will be waived. He told me this after I paid a fine, so I’m not sure how true that is.
I don’t believe voting should be compulsory and since I
stupidly enrolled to vote when I was 17 and hadn’t formed my views on the world, I’ve refused to take part in a system where the participants change from year to year, but the ideology never does. When an election was held I would go along to get my name crossed off, then put the empty ballot papers in the box – I was exercising my right not to vote. In doing this I discovered it’s not compulsory to vote. It’s compulsory to be on the electoral roll and on the day of an election, get your name crossed off.
Recently I received a flyer in my letterbox from Senator Rachel Siewert of the Greens Party. I do have a sticker on my letterbox saying no junk mail, but Rachel must feel she’s not junk. Surprisingly I read the flyer and not so surprisingly I agreed with her. She’s a member of the Upper House of Federal Parliament. It used to be that Greens Senators sometimes had a deciding vote on legislation, but currently the Liberal* government has a majority in the Senate and the Lower House. This enables them to do whatever they want. I’d like this to change, but Australia’s governing party will always be Liberal (conservative) or Labor (union supported) which are both pretty much the same. This is part of the reason I dislike government and thus voting so much. What’s the point, when nothing’s going to change?
Now I may have found a point to voting.
In voting for the Senate you can choose only one party and you’re not giving part of your vote to any other party through preferences (which happens with votes in the Lower House). My brother did kind of ruin things for me when he told me Senate votes have preferences allocated. I’m still thinking of voting for the Greens in the Senate and disregarding my Lower House ballot paper (or eating it).
A federal election is coming up in November. It used to be that after an election was called you had a week to make sure your enrolment was correct so you would be able to vote. The Howard government changed that and now the roll closes on the day the election is called. The AEC doesn’t have my current address so I have to tell them before the election is called. I’ve filled in the form, now I just have to send it off.
*Note: when the word Liberal (with a capital L) is used in Australia it means the Liberal Party (they are not liberal, except if you’ve donated a large sum of money to them)