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

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is one of the only western countries in the world that forces citizens to vote, a system that Mr Leyonhjelm says is out of date and needs to go.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

  1. Should not be forced to vote, should want to have a say

    • Should pay a huge fine if you won’t do something so small as tick boxes on a paper for Australia once every few years.

    • Leone O’Sullivan personally I feel there should be more consideration given to every vote cast.

    • People are obliged by law to vote. Less than 5% of votes cast are invalid. I think that is marvelous. Not like USA where only 33% bother voting. .

  2. It’s voluntary in the uk
    but that throws elections into disarray when the weather is bad people don’t want to turn out to vote!

  3. Australia does not have the same large population the USA does, and many people here who vote are new immigrants , without compulsory voting these people would probably not vote. At least with compulsory voting we all have a say as to who is in Government.

    • New immigrants CAN NOT vote unless they are Australian Citizens. Been here since June 2002 and can not vote, due to not being a citizen. Believe ALL should vote, and like the fact that it is compulsory here. Taking an active interest in your country and what goes on, and having a say I believe is very important.

    • Tricia I am talking bout new immigrants who are Australian citizens, if they don’t have to vote in their own country, then they will get into a pattern of not voting here. we have a citizenship ceremony every Australia Day, last Australia Day 16 thousand new Aussie’s were added to the electoral role, and yes I know my country 🙂 I was born here

    • why vote u vote them in then they just vote between themselfs and kick whoever we voted in out look at labour between gillard and rudd and now libral

    • It should be compulsory, but, so many have no idea, and don’t care who they vote for, so long as they get their named marked off at the polling booth, so they won’t be find.

    • I’m perplexed. How do you live in a country for 14 years but make no apparent move to take out citizenship. Then want to have a say in running the country. Surely if your that interested in participating your first move would be to become a citizen.

    • Honestly I don’t know what’d be worse . .
      Hardly anyone voting?
      Swinging voters voting based on election campaign half-truths and outright lies?
      Donkey voting where they just number every square and the lucky party with their candidate on top gets the vote?
      Those are the options. Without compulsory voting you have three bad options. With compulsory voting you only have two.
      I wish with all my heart that people who can’t decide who to vote for should vote informal, rather than base their choices on a leader’s smile or some other stupid reason

    • Tricia Sexton Obviously you have not taken enough interest to take out citizenship ! Your coment is rather contradictory.

  4. David Leyonhjelm had better get the vote on this done fast , he will be one politician who will probably lose his senate seat in the Liberals and Greens legislation to change the preference vote, no I don’t agree with him..we all should vote

    • Victoria it is better they vote with no idea that not to vote at all, everyone should have a say in who is running the country but yes I agree with you I have seen some very out of touch comments on here , that is being kind.

    • David James ……. David I had an incident where I took someone to vote and they just ticked the boxes willy nilly ….. doing that could get the wrong person voted in :/

    • Victoria and Lyn. There are British subjects living permanently in Australia, who are not Australian citizens, who are eligible to vote in federal elections and referendums. Under section 93(1)(b)(ii) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918, British subjects, who were enrolled for a federal electoral division in Australia immediately before 26 January 1984, are eligible to enrol and vote at federal elections and referendums. Section 4 of the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 also provides that electors who are entitled to vote at an election are entitled to vote at a referendum.

    • Christa Caldecott I had forgotten about that Christa. I came here 38 years ago from the UK. I was surprised to find that I was able to vote, even though initially I had little understanding of Australia’s politics. I became a citizen many years ago.

    • Neil Sandall Wish we had the UK system, X in the box for the person/party you want to vote for & no preferences

    • David James Surely, your statement is illogical. How can it be better to vote, whilst not knowing what you are doing, than not to vote at all. ? Guess you never heard of the old saying – “when in doubt, don`t” !

    • Christa Caldecott you’re right, I could vote prior to becoming an Australian citizen……… mind you, I’ve been brought up here since the age of 1.

    • Obama is trying to make it that illegals can vote ,WTF . Must be desperate for votes .

  5. Funny how in a Democracy we are “Forced” to vote… haha. Ireland has a voluntary vote and 65% turned out to vote last week.

    • What only 35%…. haha… like here.. everyone says… “I never voted for those buggers”

    • Two thirds of Americans don’t vote. That’s how we end up with warmongering Republicans invading countries and Australian Liberals happy to join in. Vietnam Anyone? Iraq maybe?

  6. My personal opinion is that anyone who doesn’t vote should not get a say or even have a right to comment on our politics.

    • Hefty fine I say. Vote or help the deficit. One way or another you will serve your country every few years.

    • Leone O’Sullivan
      They already do get a fine. And the electoral office now checks names against Centrelink and births deaths and marriages to see if people over 18 have registered and they can fine you for not registering.

  7. Compulsory if the US ends up with trump because people are too stupid to vote how bad would that would be. Its a duty to your country.

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