Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 4
Rafterman

For the Australians - mandatory voting

79 posts in this topic

I was listening to one of the Thinking Atheist podcast episodes from back int he fall this morning and the topic was Secular America. His guest was an Australian author who had written a book about the influence of religion in US politics.

One of his points was that the US should adopt "mandatory voting" like was done in Australia as a way to lessen the control of both right and left fringes in US politics. If everyone votes as opposed to the 50% or so who do now, the control of the hard left and the hard right would fall away dramatically - if the US is truly a centrist nation as most polls indicate.

So I'm curious, how does the mandatory voting policy work in Australia?

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's simple really. You still have to register to vote when you turn 18, or move to a new suburb, but they actually chase you until you do. After you are registered, you vote or you get fined - every Australian citizen has a duty to vote.

The polling booths are at most schools in each suburb and your name is marked off a council register as you enter to prove you voted. The register is designed so that it can be run thru a computer program after voting is completed so that anyone whose name is not marked off then gets sent a fine.

I hated the idea in my younger years, but here's the thing - it encourages an interest in what is happening to the country politically and I don't think I would have bothered taking that interest otherwise. Of course, we have folk who show up and then put thru invalid votes or blank sheets but most will decide that if they have to vote then they will do so based on what they believe is best.

Basically, it ensures everyone is encouraged to have a say - that's the principle. Without mandatory voting, there would be alot of complaining about the political system but very little action except from the determined few who would actually bother to vote. That group of determined few would by default include those with the more extreme views and agendas.

4 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What Libstak said, but to be fair, people who didn't vote don't just get sent a fine - they get a 'please explain'. I got one last election, but I had voted, so maybe they didn't cross my name off clearly.. - I gave them the details and heard nothing more.

I think it's a good system, and actually creates something close to the ideal "everyone has a say" . Interestingly, informal voting is not a crime, and is even explained as your right if wish to abstain.. so you can just walk into the voting venue, take the paper, scribble on it and put it in the box... It's also worth noting that 'absentee' and postal voting are quite easy, so if you have a good reason for not being easily able to vote on the day, there are other ways to get it done.

Now, if only we had genuine choices in terms of the political parties... What really irks me is that we had a good environment some years back for a new party to enter into the fray, and what did we get?

Pauline Hanson. For those who have never heard of her, think 'much worse than Palin'...

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they do that here then we will have people voting that don't even know who is running for president. If you went out on the street and asked who the vice president was there would be many that couldn't tell you. Too many people don't get involved but I don't think I would like a law forcing them to or they would just go to the polls and vote for anyone not caring what they stood for.

People that don't vote will complain about who wins and complain if they are forced to participate and will expect someone from government to come pick them up to take them to vote.

I do wish more people would get out and vote. If they did though they are going to have to have more places people can vote or they will be waiting in lines for days in some places.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they do that here then we will have people voting that don't even know who is running for president. If you went out on the street and asked who the vice president was there would be many that couldn't tell you. Too many people don't get involved but I don't think I would like a law forcing them to or they would just go to the polls and vote for anyone not caring what they stood for.

People that don't vote will complain about who wins and complain if they are forced to participate and will expect someone from government to come pick them up to take them to vote.

I do wish more people would get out and vote. If they did though they are going to have to have more places people can vote or they will be waiting in lines for days in some places.

A couple of things - yes, there are active voters here who could not tell you the name of the Prime Minister :P . More likely though, the subject of having to vote becomes a common discussion in social circles and people do ask questions and gain information - whether it is the correct information is a different subject. Overall mandatory voting makes people who would otherwise go about blissfully ignorant of the politics of their country take an interest, over time this can develop into actual knowledge of a thing or two. That is a better position than putting one's head in the sand come election time.

Yes, you will need more places to vote - as stated almost all Secondary colleges and most primary schools (junior for the US people) have polling booths come election day.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He's wrong of course, as the same people will be elected regardless, since they are the ones who are running.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the videos I've seen of people asked who they'd vote for then to recount a policy they stand for and not able to give a correct answer I think that is probably a bigger issue. People are still voting for people who don't even have the slightest similar views as them and they don't even know it. So how does this proposition erode the far left and right voters if those voting think they're voting someplace else on the spectrum entirely?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

He's wrong of course, as the same people will be elected regardless, since they are the ones who are running.

What, everyone who runs gets elected?

Edit: Nevermind what I asked. I think that you mean anyone from your two mainstream parties. Correct me if I'm wrong.

2nd edit: *arranges soapbox*

Edited by Likely Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He's wrong of course, as the same people will be elected regardless, since they are the ones who are running.

Yeah I think that'd have to be something addressed separately. The only real reason anyone votes for most of these morons is because they have the money to buy up airtime and plaster their crotchety mugs on every damn billboard and webpage, and sweeping Third Parties under the rug simply because they don't have the muscle to compete.

I see it more as a lack of awareness by the general public that they have options.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

So I'm curious, how does the mandatory voting policy work in Australia?

It has its issues. Quite a while ago got threatened with loosing my licence to drive one time as I'd forgot to vote ((actually I'd been sick)) and wasnt going to pay a fine due to my severe finanical issues ... I borrowed money to pay the fine in the end due to the letter about they would take away my licence if it wasnt paid. What a low down way to force people to pay!!

...........

More recently my sister.. she ended up being arrested for not voting when she did in fact vote. For some reason they missed she'd voted and she was locked up the night in a police cell for failure to vote and my grandfather in the end bailed her out the next day.

They then found records that she did vote.. so dropped the court case over failure to vote against her (she thou didnt even get an appology for that). I wanted her to take them to court for false imprisionment or something but she let this drop. Its appalling that someone who voted got arrested and locked up due to system failure over voting!!

The system is corrupt even with voting as the 2 big parties who hold more power (labour/liberal), have a lot of money to advertise themselves etc before elections. The big parties are so corrupt they tell all kinds of lies to get in but they dont even follow throu with what they've promised and there is no reprecussions for decieving the general public with promises they probably knew all along they wouldnt be able to do and keep. I truely wish I didnt have to vote as the whole thing is a con.

Edited by sea-dove

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It has its issues. Quite a while ago got threatened with loosing my licence to drive one time as I'd forgot to vote ((actually I'd been sick)) and wasnt going to pay a fine due to my severe finanical issues ... I borrowed money to pay the fine in the end due to the letter about they would take away my licence if it wasnt paid. What a low down way to force people to pay!!

This I totally agree with - this is one aspect of Oz law that absolutely sucks.

More recently my sister.. she ended up being arrested for not voting when she did in fact vote. For some reason they missed she'd voted and she was locked up the night in a police cell for failure to vote and my grandfather in the end bailed her out the next day.

Locked up for failure to vote???? This I find very hard to believe, and it should have made the press.... Frankly, if this is all true and she wasn't willing to press for false imprisonment (there are several legal companies who offer a no-win-no-fee service), then in a very significant way that is encouraging them. Why on earth wouldn't she at least take this to a decent journo to make a story out of it? - there would be outrage.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He's wrong of course, as the same people will be elected regardless, since they are the ones who are running.

But would they be the same ones we're getting now? For example, every Republican candidate knows they have to kowtow to the far right to be a viable candidate and get the nomination then they move to the center for the general election. The same goes for a Democrat. What if they didn't have to do that because they knew that the number of moderate voters far outnumbered the number of fringe voters in both parties?

For example - what if there was a fiscally conservative, socially libertarian candidate got a party's nomination because they knew they didn't have to be beholden to the radical fringes of their party?

It's interesting to consider.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But would they be the same ones we're getting now? For example, every Republican candidate knows they have to kowtow to the far right to be a viable candidate and get the nomination then they move to the center for the general election. The same goes for a Democrat. What if they didn't have to do that because they knew that the number of moderate voters far outnumbered the number of fringe voters in both parties?

For example - what if there was a fiscally conservative, socially libertarian candidate got a party's nomination because they knew they didn't have to be beholden to the radical fringes of their party?

It's interesting to consider.

Good point, candidates would have to consider the entire demographic of the voting pool not just the far right or far left agendas of those lining their pockets to actually succeed.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This I totally agree with - this is one aspect of Oz law that absolutely sucks.

Locked up for failure to vote???? This I find very hard to believe, and it should have made the press.... Frankly, if this is all true and she wasn't willing to press for false imprisonment (there are several legal companies who offer a no-win-no-fee service), then in a very significant way that is encouraging them. Why on earth wouldn't she at least take this to a decent journo to make a story out of it? - there would be outrage.

Yeah I find that a little hard to swallow too unless the fine was ignored for a significant period of time aka: to the point where it's "costs" had increased and it reached litigation before the fined person bothered to make a statement about why they didn't pay the fine in the first place. She could have been locked up, made the statement that she did indeed vote, which was duly investigated and then the case dropped. All of which could have been done when the fine was issued in the first place. Basically, you ignore the fine and it keeps coming back at you until you step up and represent yourself or you pay it in our system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

He's wrong of course, as the same people will be elected regardless, since they are the ones who are running.

Well, the voting system we have in Australia means that minor party candidates have a good chance of holding the balance of power in the Senate. That helps break the duopoly of Labor and Liberal in our Parliament and means that whoever is in government usually has to negotiate to get their legislative agenda through.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I think that'd have to be something addressed separately. The only real reason anyone votes for most of these morons is because they have the money to buy up airtime and plaster their crotchety mugs on every damn billboard and webpage, and sweeping Third Parties under the rug simply because they don't have the muscle to compete.

I see it more as a lack of awareness by the general public that they have options.

The fact remains that in Australia the proportion of people voting for the major parties has been steadily decreasing for something like 30 or 40 years. In the 1975 federal election, the two main parties (Labor and Liberal/National Country Party) got ~90%. In the 2001 election that was down to ~75%. By 2010 it was 73%. And in the 2013 election it was 68%. People are realising they can vote for minor parties and there's a seriously realistic chance of them being elected.

Plus we have some great minor parties, like the Australian Sex Party. They may sound like a joke, but they have serious and realistic policy goals, as explained in this ad which is very much NSFW (coarse language and some pixellated nudity):

(warning again - NSFW) I was disappointed to find out that they weren't running candidates in Canberra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another point to consider about compulsory voting - lots more people going to voting places than might otherwise be the case. And as most voting places are primary schools, election day is a great fund raising opportunity for the schools with sausage sizzles and fetes.

And that's because of another sensible decision in Australia - elections are held on Saturdays, when in theory most people aren't working or going to church.

(Despite this, of course, there are still people who grumble about how much time voting takes up: nearly a whole hour once every three years - how intolerable!)

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also think it has interesting implications for off-season and local elections. I routinely see less than 20 votes swing a local election with, in some cases, single digit voter participation.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an American, we cherished our right to vote...however, we never thought of any country where voting is mandatory (I knew about Australia's). Over half of Americans casted their votes on the last presidential election, which tells me the other half didn't bothered to speak out to get heard. More Americans than ever just don't trust or don't care about their government. Voting is a way the people individually can choose a leader or speak out on an issue on a ballot. I wondered what if the USA required citizens to vote, what will our election results look like: it might be different from the official results we know of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an Australian the best part of voting is the sausages. The schools make money by selling hotdogs for you to eat wile you wait in line to vote. The worst part was not being able to vote for Bob Katter (spelling) as I was in the wrong state. That Bob is a real larrikin and would have make a fine PM if he had the chance lol.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an Australian the best part of voting is the sausages. The schools make money by selling hotdogs for you to eat wile you wait in line to vote. The worst part was not being able to vote for Bob Katter (spelling) as I was in the wrong state. That Bob is a real larrikin and would have make a fine PM if he had the chance lol.

Ya know I was gonna "like" this post ..... until you mentioned Bob :w00t:

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was sent a please explain letter (it was actually quite polite!) about not voting last election here in Brisbane, I stated exactly when and where I voted and also described, in some detail, the bbq stand from which I bought my sausage and onion on bread - right down to who they were collecting funds for...

I suspect that was the killer piece of evidence that meant they simply accepted my (true) story without question.. Thank Deity for sausage sangers, cooee cobber..

5 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems sausage sandwiches (with optional tomato sauce and onion) are a big part of the voting experience for us Aussies!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As an American, we cherished our right to vote...however, we never thought of any country where voting is mandatory (I knew about Australia's). Over half of Americans casted their votes on the last presidential election, which tells me the other half didn't bothered to speak out to get heard. More Americans than ever just don't trust or don't care about their government. Voting is a way the people individually can choose a leader or speak out on an issue on a ballot. I wondered what if the USA required citizens to vote, what will our election results look like: it might be different from the official results we know of.

My bolding.

Now imagine what would happen if all those people who didn't vote instead voted for a third candidate...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are increasing numbers of people from minor parties being elected to the Senate in Australia as more voters realise they aren't wasting their votes voting for such minor parties. This is helped in Australia by the fact that each state provides 12 Senators, of whom half are up for election each time. The Senate uses a form of proportional representation to elect people, meaning that a party only requires about 14% of the vote to have one candidate elected. Following the 2013 election the Senate is likely to consist of around 33 Liberal (and National) Senators, 25 Labor Senators and 18 Senators from minor parties.

I understand it's a lot harder to get independent or minor parties elected to the US Senate, given that each state provides only two.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My bolding.

Now imagine what would happen if all those people who didn't vote instead voted for a third candidate...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are increasing numbers of people from minor parties being elected to the Senate in Australia as more voters realise they aren't wasting their votes voting for such minor parties. This is helped in Australia by the fact that each state provides 12 Senators, of whom half are up for election each time. The Senate uses a form of proportional representation to elect people, meaning that a party only requires about 14% of the vote to have one candidate elected. Following the 2013 election the Senate is likely to consist of around 33 Liberal (and National) Senators, 25 Labor Senators and 18 Senators from minor parties.

I understand it's a lot harder to get independent or minor parties elected to the US Senate, given that each state provides only two.

Yep we are starting to realise that having our own voice - not just the voice of the major party lines, is a pretty good thing and the two big boys can't just pass legislation at their whim, they need to convince the independents that it has merit too. Not that the independents can't be corrupted too, but not all of them will be all of the time and that definitely increases the chances of the legislation having been well thought through before choosing for or against at any rate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 4

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.