I have to vote this weekend. Voting in Australia is compulsory. That’s pretty unusual around the world. If you don’t vote here you get fined! We never hear about low voter turnout figures.
I guess it is an unusual model but I’m pretty used to it. Is voting more than a right? Is it a duty in a democratic system? I heard once that the theory behind compulsory voting is to stop people from being intimidated against showing up to vote.
Actually, strictly speaking, only attendance at a polling booth is compulsory – once there you can do what you like with the ballot paper including not voting at all.
This is a state election and the choice this weekend comes down to the right-wing government and the right-wing opposition. The campaign has been pretty subdued due to the larger issues in play around the world in the last few weeks.
Another unusual aspect of the Australian voting system is that it is preferential. You get to order your preference for each candidate. I like this system – it means you can vote for a minority candidate while still having a say in the selection of the major party candidates.
So, I’m off to number the boxes on Saturday …