Australia

Jun 30, 2014

Voter ID laws will fix what ain’t broke

Australia's first voter ID laws will be put to the test next month in a Queensland byelection. The public is increasingly worried about lax identification requirements at polling booths -- but with very little voter fraud, are increased measures necessary?

William Bowe — Editor of The Poll Bludger

William Bowe

Editor of The Poll Bludger

Not long after the major parties reached agreement on the need to re-upholster the system that has delivered an influx of micro-party members to the Senate, a new front is quietly opening on the electoral reform battleground.

Among the motions passed by the Liberal Party’s federal council on Friday was one calling for the introduction of voter identification laws, a notion foreshadowed last October by federal director Brian Loughnane and supported in the party’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry into last year’s election.

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15 comments

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15 thoughts on “Voter ID laws will fix what ain’t broke

  1. klewso

    Brian Loughnane aka “Brian Credlin”?

  2. klewso

    And what happens if the Limited News Party loses Stafford anyway, despite their fiddling?

  3. wayne robinson

    I have a modest proposal, which actually provides a win-win result. Before the last WA state election I received a card in the mail from the AEC detailing my name, address, electorate and closest polling booths.

    I took it along to the polling booth, but it wasn’t required.

    Perhaps it should be made compulsory? Each registered voter should receive one in the post and be required to surrender it when voting. A win for those who think (wrongly) that there’s significant electoral fraud. And a win for Australia Post in providing more work.

    Not having a card would require the elector to make a declaration vote. A further refinement would be to include dob, sex and perhaps a photo of the voter on the card.

  4. Itsarort

    The difference between us and the US is our compulsory voting regime. If the US had a similar model, I doubt whether the Republicans would ever hold power in their current form. Nick Minchin once touted the idea of non-compulsory voting here in Australia. I wonder why…?

  5. SusieQ

    Wayne Robinson, whilst I understand the thinking behind your proposal, doesn’t it seem just one step away from an ID card? Surely that is something we do not want to introduce?

  6. wayne robinson

    SuzieQ,

    I did preface my comment with ‘a modest proposal’ as a reference to Jonathan Swift. It wasn’t meant to be taken seriously (although, I actually do think consuming babies of the poor is actually a very good idea).

    Anyway. Even if implemented it wouldn’t be an ID card. The card would be surrendered on voting.

  7. Yclept

    So if everyone leaves their ID at home (oops) they can cause chaos in the system, with a result not known until all those signatures are checked. Sounding good…

  8. AR

    Itsa – voluntary voting is Minchin’s perennial wet dream, which he has been assiduously & tirelessly promoting at least since I first had the misfortune to learn of him in the 80s.
    This non-issue of ID looks, to me – naif that I am – like the thin end of a long planned wedge.

  9. Sean Doyle

    @wayne robinson #3: One group likely to be disadvantaged by that modest proposal is the homeless, who tend to lack fixed addresses to receive mail at. Since this group also tends to lack formal ID due to cost issues, they would also be disadvantaged under the Queensland ID laws, too.

    ID laws on their own would not be a major issue in Australia due to compulsory voting and the High Court being very likely to strike down any ID laws that would exclude significant numbers of voters (based on their rejection of the Howard Government laws that tried to strip voting rights from some prisoners). However, if they could end compulsory voting, then it’ll be party time for the coalition parties.

  10. wayne robinson

    Sean,

    My ‘modest proposal’ was a bit of a spoof. It would be expensive, moving the cost of providing some ID from the elector to the AEC.

    Anyway. How do the homeless or electors with no fixed address currently register to vote? Wouldn’t they need to have some address in an electorate?

    I agree that the voting system isn’t badly broken, and certainly wouldn’t want to adopt one of the current American systems.

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