Let’s talk: Should voting be voluntary?

With an election just around the corner, there has been lots of talk both in and out of parliament about
New Zealand

With an election just around the corner, there has been lots of talk both in and out of parliament about Australia’s voting system and the way it is managed.

Now Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm has said he wants voting in Australia to be voluntary like it is in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Currently, all Australians are required by law to vote in every election or face a $20 fine.

Australia is one of the only western countries in the world that forces citizens to vote, a system that Mr Leyonhjelm says is out of date and needs to go.

“The UK, the US, most of the rest of the world has non-compulsory voting – it’s the normal situation for the world,” Mr Leyonhjelm said, as reported by SMH.

“It’s very, very unusual to have compulsory voting.”

There is no word yet on how this proposal will be met by the government and other members of parliament, but with the government currently looking at a number of changes to Australia’s voting system it seems like the perfect time to open the discussion up to the public.

If Australia was to introduce voluntary voting it would need to decide how to run elections under the new law.

Australia could move to similar voting system to the UK, where voters essentially put an X in a box signalling who they want to vote for.

This is in stark contrast to Australia’s current system which sees people numbering their preferences in order down the page.

The other option, of course, in an American-style voting system, which includes a complicated round of voting for party leaders before the actual race for president begins. Given the vast differences between Australia’s and Americas government structure, it is unlikely this would be an option.

Lastly, Australia could stick to the system it already has, but with non-compulsory voting instead.

What do you think about Senator Leyonhjelm’s proposal?

Do you think voting in Australia should be compulsory? Would you still vote if you didn’t have to by law?