If you are on the electoral roll in Australia you must vote. It is compulsory under threat of punishment. If you don’t, the fine is $55,-. Today, is compulsory voting day in NSW, Australia. It is for representation for local shires and councils. Many shires are now joined into one which makes it a bit difficult. Some shires have disappeared or overlap, and other shires had voting some weeks ago. I don’t know why, but in any case I just voted.
All the political parties were vying for prime positions outside our Bowral High School to hand out ‘how to vote’ pamphlets. Voting in Australia is not without complications. If you thought working out all the apps on mobile phones are complicated, wait till you vote for the local municipal elections. Syria has a problem with all the warring parties but so do our voting methods in local governments. Each year complaints are lodged with the Electoral Commission about unscrupulous people handing out those ‘how to vote’ papers. Innocent voters are almost choked or tripped over into accepting those papers. Bribes and incentives are whispered about too.
But, that is not all.
Another illegal practise is handing out free barbequed sausage rolls. They cannot be given for free, especially not when the barbeque is within a couple of metres near the frenzied ‘how to vote’ mob of people. It could be seen as an enticement to vote for a particular party. At the Bowral school the sausage rolls were available AFTER you voted. You had to leave the voting hall through a separate door distinct from the door given entrée to the voters before they voted. Relieved voters now lined up for Sausage rolls. Political party favouritism and confusion was thereby avoided and it complied with all electoral rules. In any case, the whole venue smelled deliciously of fried onions and the sausages. The mood was cheerful and here and there some light banter escaped involuntary.
You have two ways of voting. One way is above a line and one below a line. Indeed, the ballot paper has a black line across, about two thirds from the bottom up. You mustn’t vote below the line if you voted above the line. This truth is rock solid. However the reverse or converse also applies. If you vote below the line than it is equally forbidden to also vote above the line. Most people that are literate and capable of reading ( about 67%) would probably get it over with quickly and vote above the line first and forget about the poor sods below. Which in my view is not all that unbiased or fair either, giving the above the line crowd a bit of an advantage. I mean if I was a councillor I would not want to be featured below a line.
Compared with the strict rules governing the barbequed sausages etiquette. I question why this voting option would not be better dealt with with a vertical line drawn down the middle. It would appear to be fairer. What do you think? Or, would this suggest left or right leanings. I mean would the Labor party member want to seen on the right side of the ballot paper and conservatives on the left?
Nothing is easy and Helvi reckons I stink of fried onions.