Thursday, October 18, 2007

Compulsory voting - part 1

Despite compulsory voting in Australia there are clear indications that enrolments are below parity with 2004. Voting is compulsory for all Australian citizens aged 18 years or over, indeed enrolling to vote is compulsory.

If you do not vote, the Electoral Commission will write to you asking that you provide an explanation or pay a $20 fine. Those who do not pay the fine within 21 days face court and a fine of $50 plus court costs. I’m not sure what the penalty is for failing to enrol.

Even so, these failures are not rigorously pursued. Indeed, our political masters are not averse to measures which restrict ability of potential voters to enrol. Those measures are based on restricting classes of voters who might be seen as hostile. For the Howard government that always means young voters.

Amendments enacted by the Liberals now close enrolments on the day election writs are issued. So distracted young people are given no time to enrol once the main game starts; they think ahead or they are out of the picture.

It is not compulsory for Australians outside the country to vote. But failing to maintain one’s federal electoral enrolment and not voting in even one election once abroad can mean that an expat loses their right to vote for the rest of their time overseas.

I was one of an estimated 500,000 living overseas at the last federal election and found it impossible to confirm my enrolment and receive postal voting papers in time to vote. Not that my long distance vote would have hurt Mark Vaile.

The Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed 143,000 voters including more than 3000 in Canberra have been removed from the electoral roll in the six months leading up to this year's election, a potential boost to the Howard Government's chances.

1 comment:

Praguetwin said...

Wow, I had no idea. That is what I call freedom.

Wait, are you serious?