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Election day... Aug. 21st, 2010 @ 12:30 pm
So, I've planned out my Senate ballot - have you? (Question does not apply if you're not Australian.)

I have to say, having followed the election coverage of the last US and UK elections, it's remarkable, looking at our own, to see how... relaxed it is. Because even when people are actually discussing The Issues, there's none of that frantic vote you have to vote look this is important vote vote VOTE! element that other countries' coverage tends to have.

The closest we get is an off-handed "remember to vote on Saturday". They had that on Yes We Canberra, minutes apart from a song and dance number about how every candidate is fucked (sic) and it's all so very pointless.

We can do that, here, because we all know everyone's going to vote anyway.

I really can't emphasise strongly enough how much better democracy works with compulsory participation. (Notably, the ancient Athenians, who invented democracy, did in fact have mandatory participation - though penalties also included public disgrace, whereas in Australia it's a minor fine.)

It's just... it doesn't work without it, not really, as far as I can tell.

When voting is compulsory, you can't marginalise massive numbers of people on the grounds that they don't tend to vote anyway, and you can't have all that dodgy shit that happens when people try to prevent other people from voting. Not just because that's a crime, but because you can't really obstruct people voting when the electoral commission goes a very long way out of its way to make sure it's easy for everyone to vote.

And you don't get people left unable to vote because their polling station wasn't prepared to deal with the numbers - the Australian Electoral Commission knows exactly how many people are going to vote, and it's very, very experienced at making 100% voter turnout run smoothly.

Seriously, people - in my country they put polling booths in hospitals. And if you can't get to the booths in your ward, an official comes to your room and you can vote in bed. Voting is both a duty of citizenship and an absolute right of citizenship, and that right is firmly, firmly protected.

Sure, our politics is generally full of fail anyway, but at least everyone is a part of it, and our election results are generally pretty much representative of what the country wanted. (Or "least didn't want", sometimes.)

It only gets stressful when, say, the party that forms government may be dependent entirely on a few seats in Queensland, where the incumbent state Labour government is deeply hated, and yet it is vitally, vitally necessary that the federal Labour government win, because the current Leader of the Opposition is insane and also evil.

Dear Queensland,

Please vote Greens.

Love,
Australia
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