In Australia voting in local, state and federal elections is compulsory for those who are qualified to do so. That’s why we hold elections on Saturday’s I suppose. These days though there is the option to vote early at a pre-poll centre or cast a postal vote if we can’t get to the polls for whatever reason.
However, even if voting were not compulsory I would still do it because I believe that casting your vote is important. I believe that we only get the government we deserve and that if we can’t be bothered to vote we don’t really have the right to complain about the outcome. Rather like you can’t expect to win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.
Compulsory voting just means that you must be signed off as having voted though. It doesn’t mean that you have to actually fill in the ballot paper correctly. But if you don’t, it’s wasting your vote. I think it is important to take the time to learn a little about the candidates and what they stand for and make a thoughtful decision.
Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if voting were not compulsory because if a large percentage of the population voted informally or in an uninformed manner that’s not really a true picture of what the public really want either. But then, if voting is not compulsory maybe a lot of people wouldn’t even bother which would mean that extreme political groups might influence the results more.
I don’t know. What do you think?
Anyway, writing this post has reminded me that there is a Legislative Council election in Tasmania today so I have to go out and vote. I wonder if there will be a sausage sizzle.