The more
I think about it, the more I realise that the problem with the report by the
Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters is that it outlines a series of
issues that concern the poor behaviour by political parties, but in all cases
produces solutions which are designed to make voting and enrolment tougher for
the 99% of the electorate that have done nothing wrong.

That
comment applies to the proposals to make enrolment tougher, to close the rolls
on the day a writ is issued, and also the decision to abolish group ticket
voting in the Senate. With the enrolment changes, a few individuals associated
with political parties cause problems, and the rest of the electorate ends up
being made to jump through hoops to get on the roll. With Senate voting, it
seems the only solution to parties abusing the ticket voting system is to make voters
waste time filling in vast strings of preferences they don’t have and which probably
won’t be counted anyway.

Which is
why I think both Charles Richardson and Graham Orr missed the point yesterday.
Yes, there are problems with ticket voting. The solution is optional
preferential voting, altering the way tickets imply votes for candidates, or
using the proposed new form of above the line voting as a third option.

But
re-introducing compulsory preferences for the Senate is not a solution to the abuse
of the ticket voting system, because it makes informal a form of voting that has
been used by 95% of the electorate for two decades. I do not believe that
education can overcome the fact that many voters will turn up at the next
election and continue to vote in the same way as they have for two decades, in
which case their vote will just be tossed aside as informal.

To read more, click here.

Peter Fray

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