Right Thinking From The Left Coast
No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vote or Die, Mate

Three aspect of the Aussie election bear mentioning, absent any political analysis.

First, voting is mandatory.  Granted, the fine for not voting is only $20, if I read my websites correctly.  But it is a mandate nonetheless.  I’m not a big supporter of voter mandates.  I fall into the camp that says that voting is a right, not a duty, and you are free not to exercise that right.  Moreover, I’m not sure I want our elections being decided by people who have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the booth.

I also worry that mandatory voting leads to government growth, as it expands the pool of people who need to have their votes bought.  However, it’s not like the lack of a mandate has kept the growth of our government in check.  And pouring millions of people into the ballot box whose main involvement in government is getting taxed could drown out the motivated minorities hat constantly vote for government lucre (unions, big business, etc.)

Second, voting is held on a Saturday to make it easier for people to vote without missing work.  I think this is a great idea (modulo some allowance for orthodox Jews who won’t vote on the Sabbath).  An alternative suggestion I’ve heard is to make voting day a holiday.  That’s less appealing, since you’d have to mandate the holiday to make it work.  I don’t think it would make that much of a difference, given the zillions of absentee ballots and early voting every year.  But it might help.  I’ve missed a vote because of work.

Third, is the Aussie system of preferential voting.  In this system, you vote “1” for your top choice and number your other choices in order of preference.  This is to prevent a party winning with a minority of the vote.  A perfect example would be last year’s NY-23 election, which the Democrats won with 48.3% of the vote.  In a preferential system, conservatives could have put Scozzafava 1, Hoffman 2 or vice-versa, which would potentially have swung the election.  A similar scenario might play out this year in the Florida Senate election.

I like this idea, mainly because it would allow people to vote for third parties (Green or Libertarian) without necessarily throwing the election.  Granted, that would probably mean that Gore would have won in 2000.  But if it means we get some serious libertarian votes—and maybe a libertarian Congressman or three ... well, it still wouldn’t have been worth it to have President Algore.

Anyway, discuss in the comments.  And I’ll post update if Aussiesmurf or my wife identify something stupid in my post.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/20/10 at 04:05 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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