Mar 5, 2014

A fix for what’s not broken: why Australia doesn’t need voter ID

Are new rules needed to stop multiple voters from undermining Australian elections? Not according to the local and international evidence, writes Jennifer Rayner at Inside Story.

For one Australian voter, September 7 2013 was a very busy day. While most of us were savouring our election day sausages in the early spring sunshine, someone was practising William Hale Thompson’s famous admonition to “vote early and vote often”.

Reviewing its records from the big day, the Australian Electoral Commission discovered one person had voted 15 times, scattering ballots across their electorate like confetti at a wedding. This devotee of democracy wasn’t alone, either; the commission has confirmed it is investigating almost 2000 cases of multiple voting in the 2013 poll.

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10 thoughts on “A fix for what’s not broken: why Australia doesn’t need voter ID

  1. klewso

    I reckon it takes a certain kind of intellect to use your own name when “voting in bulk”?
    Would they leave their card – name, street and email address – when robbing a bank?
    Maybe it’s someone else using it?

    4 adults in a house – who gets to take the electricity bill to the poll?

    And maybe Rumpole Turnbull overestimates the number?
    He did the capabilities of that Russian consortium led by a relation of Murdoch’s to make it rain for $10million of our taxes.
    Then there was “Utehate”.
    So we should do what he says?????

  2. wayne robinson

    The Red Cross demands identification from its blood donors, either photo identification or its own card (without a photo – but then you’re required to give your full name, address and date of birth),

    Perhaps the Electoral Commission should ask for your birthdate along with your address when crossing your name off the roll (which would then require dob to be listed too)?

    Regarding the Senate rerun in WA (I’m looking forward to numbering around a hundred boxes below the line), it’s been suggested that some counts of elections are just too close to call – the eventual winning margin is just much smaller than the counting error involved.

    In Washington State in one election the Republican candidate won by around 300 votes (with about 3 million voters). An automatic recount resulted in a Republican win by 40 votes. Which then led to a manual recount, resulting in a Democrat win by an even smaller margin. And then 170 uncounted Democrat votes were found, an the Democrat was declared the winner.

    It’s been suggested than when the vote in the first counting is too close, then they should toss a coin to decide the winner, and forget about recounts and re-recounts, because the totals will never agree.

    In the last Senate election in WA, when they got down to the critical 14 vote difference, they should have just tossed a coin to determine which candidate was eliminated and preferences distributed accordingly.

  3. rossmcg

    Funny how the Tories always see electoral reform as a chance to make it harder for people to vote. The clear implication is that they think voters supporting labor and greens and Palmer and whoever else are dishonest.
    Why not go back to the good old days when only male property owners were allowed a vote.

  4. Aphra

    Let’s see evidence of significant voter fraud, please. Then, explain to me how voter ID laws would prevent fraud, where it exists.

    In the US many right-wing politicians and supporters speak forcefully about prevalent voter fraud but when asked to document specific types that would be stopped by ID laws, no one has been able to do so. No one. Not one.

    What did happen in the US is that a significant numbers of potential voters, especially in the southern states, were denied a vote because they didn’t have ‘appropriate’ ID, the appropriateness of which varied from state to state or even county to county.

    This is merely a backdoor attempt to change the entire voting system and the requirement that all adults vote, a right nuisance to all conservatives. Don’t know why – they don’t seem to do too badly as things stand.

    However, I do think that, in the electronic age, a more efficient system could be devised to replace, eventually, the antiquated one we still have. I ask you, ‘mysteriously lost’ ballots! Who on earth believes that? Now that’s the sort of voter fraud that I’d like to see eliminated.

  5. extra

    Jenny- my understanding is that most of the 2000-odd multiple voting instances weren’t intentional, but the result of, say, people in nursing homes making a postal vote, forgetting that they had done so, and voting in person. Is there any more detailed data on this?

    How much of the push for voter ID is coming from interests in Australia aping the GOP’s active voter-discouragement efforts in the USA?

  6. Jimmyhaz

    It’d be interesting to see just who these laws will end up affecting the most.

    If it’s anything like in the US, I imagine it will be those who overwhelmingly vote for the (relative) left-wing party.

  7. zut alors

    One would’ve thought Campbell Newman was too busy legislating to deprive us of our civil rights to have time to ‘fix’ a system presenting no problem.

    Compared to the general rorts entrenched in Qld politics, voter fraud doesn’t even make a blimp on the radar.

  8. The Pav

    Whilst I don’t support voter ID I am not comfortable with describing a voter who voted 15 times as over enthusiastic. It was a fraud pure and simple and I hope the punishment fits the crime.

    Our system works best on trust and honesty and those who betray this should suffer the consequences.

    BTW who did this person vote for?

  9. CML

    @ The Pav Who would know how any multiple voter voted!
    In the example quoted, wouldn’t all 15 votes have been cast by secret ballot!!
    If not, why not?

  10. AR

    klewy – thanks for the memory jog, esp the former, russian rain.

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