Regarding both dropping the age of suffrage and compulsory voting. If we did either of those things and nothing else, we'd get:
- a large waste of money, time, and effort on the part of the EC, dealing with deliberately spoiled/blank ballot papers
- a larger section of the eligible voting population not voting.
It seems to me that either approach would also require work done on engaging people to value their vote. Which needs to be done anyway.
Rob Salmond has a new post up regarding access to electoral rolls.
The regrettable part is that this solution would perpetuate the current double standard where it is OK to run a civic participation campaign using roll information if out are also standing in the election, but not if you are a non-partisan, pro-turnout group.
Is appealing to a disenchanted niche vote wrong? If so, then we should be happy kids don’t vote.
No, not at all, that’s kind of the opposite of what I was trying to say. In a non-proportional system, it’s easier to ignore a minority group of voters. It’s easier for there to be, for realsies, no actual point in voting, because you can’t change anything. Compulsory voting means those people will vote anyway, which may work as a disincentive for parties to crap on those people. Under a proportional system, it’s much easier for a viable party to emerge that caters to their interests. Which, huzzah.
One thing this report does do, I think, is very firmly put to bed the idea that it was the introduction of MMP which caused the drop in voter turnout.
But I also think there is a level of frustration with the lack of difference between the “goodies” and the “baddies” that leaves many with the feeling that their vote does not matter.
So, the EC ran those ‘your vote is a powerful thing’ ads with the changing faces. But they’re limited in what they can say to motivate people to vote by the necessary neutrality. They can’t run a campaign that says, “Hey, you guys don’t vote so much. But your grandparents do. Remember Christmas? Their voice is getting heard and yours isn’t. In the polling booth, your mum can’t tell you to shut up.”
The recommendations on the Electoral Roll run pretty contrary to Rob Salmond’s arguments that the data be made more open – interesting to see it come up here.
Okay, to me this looks like two people/groups identifying similar problems, and suggesting different solutions. So at the moment,
If rolls and habitation indexes can be inspected and purchased, it is impossible to ensure that they are not being used for ancillary purposes. Patterns of purchase indicate that rolls are rarely being used for scrutiny purposes. They are mainly purchased by business and media organisations and used for debt collection, marketing, and other ancillary purposes
This would seem to indicate that the legal safeguards Rob talks about aren’t really working. I think maybe we can agree that it was never anybody’s intention that the primary use of purchased electoral rolls is for debt collection?
feedback from outreach activities suggests that many electors are nonetheless unwilling to enrol because they do not meet the criteria for inclusion on the unpublished roll but have concerns about their full residential address being available at large.
In Australia, rolls have been available only for inspection at Electoral Commission offices since 2004.
So, from the EC’s point of view, they don’t want people not enrolling or updating their details because they owe Baycorp, or because they’re worried about being found by an abusive ex they have not laid charges against.
Rob’s point about the double standard is well made. What I can’t see is a compelling argument as to why he, or other private individuals, should have access to that information, which outweighs concerns for people’s physical safety.
Was there an option for, “because all the candidates were lying cheating scumbags”?
Um... there's "Didn't know who to vote for", I guess...
How did you manage to write an entertaining column about voting?
But Bart, voting is fascinating. Utterly fascinating. Let me tell you all about the EC's plans for a two-week voting window, and how they haven't had a budget increase in six years, and why advance voting is more expensive to run, and why I shouldn't drink any more coffee today...
Meanwhile the enfranchised majority vote for the same old spanners who are dismantling our country nut by bolt, creating further disenfranchisement.
I think it's worth noting that, of 670 'informal' votes, 66% were people casting a party vote, and not a candidate vote. Only 2% were the other way around. So, while these are small numbers, people are more likely to feel motivated to cast a party vote, which seems to make sense.
One of the arguments for compulsory voting is that parties would then not be able to ignore a particular section of the (eligible) population, because those people have to vote. I think that stacks up less in a proportional system, because there are fewer barriers in the way of a party choosing to appeal to a disenchanted niche vote. One might argue that both the Greens and Internet Mana had a go at appealing to the youth vote. Except when you drill down into the data, as the EC has, you find that youth in urban electorates are much more likely to vote than youth in rural electorates.
Is the voter turnout graph based on ‘all voters’ or those ‘enrolled to vote’ voters.
It's not completely clear from context, but the figure given in the point immediately underneath it is "voter turnout of those eligible to enrol".
I'm glad to hear online voting isn't a priority for the 2017 general election at least.
Yeah, me too. Technical and social issues aside, it in no way addresses what the Commission identifies as the issues with voter turnout: engagement, and valuing one's vote.
That was my favorite part! I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about reading it.
There is, basically, a whole 'nother column in there about accessibility issues.