Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Posted November 28, 2014 09:33:14

Seat-by-seat counts could be dragged out for days before clarity is achieved. Seat-by-seat counts could be dragged out for days before clarity is achieved. Photo: Seat-by-seat counts could be dragged out for days before clarity is achieved. (ABC Local: Jim Trail)

It's a very sad day for upholding the democratic process when social and lifestyle considerations are placed above the importance of voting, writes Chris Earl.

There is an element of farce ahead of Saturday's Victorian election that raises questions about the Victorian Electoral Commission's management of the democratic process.

The VEC must take full responsibility for the phenomenal increase in the number of electors granted a vote at a pre-poll centre in the fortnight before the election day.

By the time polling booths officially open at 8am on Saturday, up to a third of Victorians electors will have had their name ticked off the roll.

Voting has become much like visiting a fast-food outlet or convenience store - turn up whenever you like. Heaven forbid that the right and responsibility to vote on the future of your state, or nation, cuts across other more important plans you might between 8am and 6pm on that day.

When early voting in person was introduced at the 1984 federal election, the intent was to assist those who were unable to arrive at a polling booth on the day by reasons or employment or religion, a more modern take on postal voting.

That has all changed in the last decade with the VEC almost openly encouraging people to vote at pre-poll.

The Victorian Parliament's Electoral Matters Committee conducted an inquiry into the future of electoral administration, noting in a 2012 discussion paper:

In practice, when an elector attends an early voting centre VEC officials at early voting centres ask the elector whether they are eligible to vote early. The VEC's Election Manual for the 2010 Victorian State Election states that officials ask the question, 'Are you unable to vote on election day?' If the elector's answer is 'Yes' they are issued a vote.

Based on this answer the VEC is required, by Section 98 of the Electoral Act 2002 (Vic), to accept the elector's declaration. The VEC cannot require electors to provide specific reasons for their inability to vote on election day.

But it was further recorded by the commission that:

... in response to several queries from the Committee during and subsequent to its inquiry into the 2010 Victorian state election, the VEC has advised the committee it will amend its website to include examples of what being unable to vote on election day may include.

The VEC also proposes to include a note on its website, that electors who are able to vote on election day are not eligible to vote early in person or by post.

The VEC website is still to be populated with those examples in listings explaining the voting options available to Victorians on Saturday.

Having fuelled a further upsurge in pre-poll voting, the VEC has also determined that the estimated 30 per cent of votes cast by 6pm Friday will not be counted until Monday.

A redistribution of Victoria's electoral boundaries has produced six seats with a notional margin of less than 1 per cent. Tight results in these and 20 other marginals - seats under 5 per cent - will not be unexpected and that significant one-third of the vote left uncounted on Saturday night will likely determine final results in those seats and also who forms government for the next four years.

Seat-by-seat counts could be dragged out for days before clarity is achieved. Not a good look for democracy with only political tragics following unfolding events, the briefly engaged (duty done) voter already off to the next Christmas function.

Imagine the outcry from Scotland's 4.2 million voters if electoral officials had kept them waiting days for a result in the independence referendum. The streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow would have been filled with even greater anger or disappointment.

Scottish officials were timely and efficient in their counting of votes back on that September night and into the wee hours of the next morning when contrasted with what could be called a pedestrian pace in Victoria for some of the estimated 3.2 million or so papers that will be put into piles this Saturday night.

Victoria's electoral matters committee in its final report this year said:

The committee recognises that early voting is now an established component of Victoria's electoral practice. It provides many Victorians with opportunities to vote which suit their work, social and lifestyle choices.

It's a very sad day for upholding the democratic process when social and lifestyle considerations are placed above the importance of voting - a right and responsibility, not a choice to be exercised at your convenience.

It's equally sad when the temporary custodians of democracy, an electoral commission, are either unable or unwilling to count all ballots cast at polling booths in the hours that follow the close of voting.

Election day has become election month ... all in the name of convenience. Is that why we vote?

Chris Earl is a Bendigo-based rural and regional affairs consultant and was a member of the Liberal Party's Victorian Division administrative committee for five years. View his full profile here.

Topics: government-and-politics, elections

Comments (138)

Comments for this story are closed.

  • Stuffed Olive:

    28 Nov 2014 9:48:12am

    Pre-poll votes should be counted immediately. It is plain stupid that the result is delayed. There is no justified reason.

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    • GJA:

      28 Nov 2014 10:07:30am

      Yes, there is, as has been shown in the US, during Presidential elections, where calling the race based on east coast polling results has been shown to influence results, particularly regarding poll attendance, in Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zone locations. Sure, Australia's got mandatory voting, turnout is quite good, but if you were headed to the polls and heard that your district was called on the basis of early voting results, it might influence your vote, which should be on the basis of your convictions regarding the parties and policies offered. Better to leave the result open until the full count than unduly influence swings and preferences by positing a foregone conclusion from insufficient evidence.

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      • frangipani:

        28 Nov 2014 10:17:34am

        I don't see why counting the votes early would have any influence, so long as the numbers weren't published but only held to be added to the official count on the day.

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        • fcg:

          28 Nov 2014 11:16:50am

          You are a very trusting soul, frangipani. Are you sure someone wouldn't let the cat out of the bag. This is Australia after all.

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      • Stuffed Olive:

        28 Nov 2014 1:14:35pm

        I meant counted immediately at the close of polling. Not before.

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        • John51:

          28 Nov 2014 2:59:16pm

          Olive, I think one of the reasons why they don't count postal votes as soon as the close of polling is because it would stuff up their analysis of the voting outcome. The way it is analysed now is not just by electorate, but by individual polling stations.

          To continue to work with the current analysis system of voting outcome those postal votes would have to not only be divided up according to electorate. They would also have to be divided up according to the polling booths that those people would be expected to vote at. If we have too high a pre poll vote happening it will make it much easier to call elections on the night.

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        • Stuffed Olive:

          28 Nov 2014 3:48:57pm

          Yes, but pre-polls are not the same as postals. The vast majority of the pre-polls are cast in the correct electorate. As for polling booths within electorates that gives nice historical information. However one can vote at any polling booth within the electorate, i.e. there is no compulsion to vote at the nearest one. I can see no reason to delay counting pre-polls once voting has closed.

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        • Stuffed Olive:

          28 Nov 2014 3:52:52pm

          It does seem that pre-poll or early voting are treated the same as a postal vote. But they aren't a postal vote. There is a problem which needs to be sorted.

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      • olddavey:

        28 Nov 2014 4:26:28pm


        "calling the race based on east coast polling results has been shown to influence results, particularly regarding poll attendance, in Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zone locations"

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but for as long as long as I can remember Victoria has only had one time zone.

        There is no need to reveal the results of early voting until after the polls close at 6pm, then they can be added to the votes being counted from the booths.

        Not too hard and would almost always guarantee a result for all.

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    • Mango:

      28 Nov 2014 11:23:15am

      Anthony Green on his blog goes through some detail as to why Victorian State election pre poll votes aren't counted on the night and why most federal pre poll votes are. Its mainly to do with how the respective electoral bodies conduct their pre polling day voting procedure. I think the VEC should smarten up their act. Its not possible to do so for this weekend but it should be possible in the future.

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      • Stuffed Olive:

        28 Nov 2014 1:09:11pm

        I can't find Green on federal pre-poll stuff. I am sure that the Fed pre-poll votes were counted later. I was following Indi very closely and the delay in the result was because of the large pre-poll votes. All the initial results were from regular polling booths, not the pre-poll ones which sat there uncounted for days.

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    • Aaron:

      28 Nov 2014 3:39:06pm

      I agree.

      Indeed, it should be reasonably easy to do. While everyone else is trudging down the local primary school for their snag and vote, you collect all the pre-poll votes in a handful of locations (somewhere like Victoria it should be pretty straightforward to do this in 2-3 locations - even 1 would be feasible) and you hire an extra half a dozen folks to count them starting the minute the polls close.

      You'd expect pre-polls could then be fed straight into the vote count on the night.


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  • DeepFritz:

    28 Nov 2014 9:48:19am

    Forget the pen and paper, just hold the ballots via the web. In a few years time the computers will run everything for us anyway, and they possibly couldn't do it any worse...

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    • Dan:

      28 Nov 2014 10:09:00am

      This. If I can do my tax and banking on the net, why can't I vote? And why does anyone need to count anything. A computer should be able to give the result the moment the polls close (because its all done electronically). Touch screen booths for those still not connected to the net would cover everyone. Get onto it AEC. It should have happened 10 years ago.

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      • Greg:

        28 Nov 2014 1:27:36pm

        No it should not. If people are to lazy as a general statement to vote, I don't want their opinion to influence an important outcome.

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    • NewSpeaker:

      28 Nov 2014 10:21:13am

      My mind boggles at how hard voting on the web would be to secure. One of the advantages of paper ballots is that at the very least they leave a paper audit trail. I'm not a security expert but for web voting to work I'd assume everyone would need their own private key to sign their vote. That to me also removes the anonymity.

      To me a better system would be electronic voting machines which also print out a copy of your vote for a ballot box. You get the benefit of immediate counting and can have it verified by a paper count.

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      • MK:

        28 Nov 2014 10:42:44am

        'I'm not a security expert'

        Then probably just stop there,

        And in all seriousness this is being compared with the super secure system of rocking up "in person" NOT having to show ID and only having to be able to receite a name and adress

        Dan makes good points about Internet banking

        and Taxes if its safe enough for my taxes, tax record,

        my Medicare

        we would need some kind of key to sign for my vote

        and bugger me.... i already have a myGov account and digital 'key'

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        • NewSpeaker:

          28 Nov 2014 2:43:41pm

          The examples of services you provided all identify you. For voting to work your vote needs to anonymous. The problem with Web Voting is:

          - You need to be able to secure the transmission of the vote from tampering in transit

          - You need to be able to authenticate that the sender of the transmission is eligible to vote and isn't for example a mass bot net trying to rig the election.

          - You need to be able to keep the sender anonymous.

          - You need to be able to stop the vote being manipulated who ever created the voting software or is running the software.

          - You need to be able to accurately count the results.

          - You need to be able to have an audit trail in order to perform a recount.

          Our current system isn't perfect, but I trust it more than my vote going through unsecured lines and entering a black box to be counted.

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      • jean:

        28 Nov 2014 11:43:57am

        So what if the computer process was open to hacking?

        Could the 14 year olds from Belarus who seem to regularly pinch credit card information around the world do a worse job in picking a government than the Australian electorate has managed the last few times?

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        • Aardvark:

          28 Nov 2014 2:42:02pm

          Hah, yes well said jean! That made me laugh.

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    • James Picone:

      28 Nov 2014 12:48:28pm

      Authentication is a concern. You'd need to send a Big Important Government Letter to every registered government voter saying something like "Your electoral key is XXXXXXXXX", otherwise you've got issues ensuring one vote per person. You could do it like polling booths do - cross off the name/address combination - but they've got the advantage that /very few/ people vote out of district, requiring someone to actually be physically present, and requiring more effort to game. If you wanted to screw up voting for laughs, it'd be a big undertaking. If you wanted to screw up web voting that didn't have an electoral-key mechanism for laughs, it'd be easy.

      But now that we've ensured one-vote-per-person, anonymity is a problem. The only guarantee that the electoral key you've used isn't associated with the ballot is what the programmers say, whereas in-person it's obviously rather hard to track. And I'm not sure there's a good way of distributing electoral keys anonymously - that is, knowing there's one per person but also not knowing who that person is.

      This is before any more practical concerns of 1) you still need in-person voting for people who don't have reliable web access or who don't trust it (and you need to ensure that people who web-vote don't also vote in person - anonymity, again, is a problem), and 2) it's impossible to prevent people being watched 'over the shoulder' to ensure they vote the 'right way' in a web-vote situation - say, a partner in an abusive relationship, a youth living with their hyper-authoritarian parents.

      There is a thing called 'homomorphic encryption' that lets you do computation - like tallying results - on encrypted data without decrypting it, which could theoretically allow encrypted votes to be tallied without the government being able to decrypt them, but it's mostly academic at the moment, and the handful of fully-homomorphic encryption mechanisms known aren't very well tested yet.

      I am not a security or cryptography expert, but I am a programmer and I've studied the basics.

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      • Zerotwoalpha:

        28 Nov 2014 2:09:45pm

        Could just link it to people mygov account.

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        • NewSpeaker:

          28 Nov 2014 2:41:20pm

          Then the vote would not be anonymous.

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        • Craig:

          28 Nov 2014 4:52:07pm

          It could be anonymous - the information about your identity need not be passed on to the voting system, and the information about your vote needn't be passed back to the identity system.

          In this way all the identity system would know is that a given person voted (or not), and the voting system would simply know what was voted for by an authenticated yet anonymous individual.

          The system can then be audited through matching.

          If necessary we could identify voters by region (postcode, suburb, electorate or another appropriate level) big enough to ensure anonymity, but small enough such that if an audit discrepency is detected that only a relatively small number of people had to revote (not an entire state like WA).

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        • newspeaker:

          28 Nov 2014 6:23:03pm

          If the system is audited though matching then it would be possible to deanonymise people. The system could match the unique bits up. Or if there is nothing unique about the vote that both systems know, there is no way to know if the system was compromised as long as the totals match. If ten people vote for XYZ and the system says ten people voted for ABC as long as the count is ten the system would pass.

          With a paper system you can check the actual paper.

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    • Duncan:

      28 Nov 2014 3:44:19pm

      A computer could count the votes quickly but not transparently. If the result is disputed you would need a degree in computer science to argue the case. With paper votes anyone can check for themselves and accept the result.

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      • Craig:

        28 Nov 2014 4:54:21pm

        Make the source code open, so everyone can see it and anyone with appropriate skills would be able to verify that the voting was undertaken legitimately.

        People have been trying to get the electoral commission to release the code for the software used to calculate Senate results for years, in order to validate it is accurate, but the AEC has refused.

        As a result, we don't really know if Senate vote results are correct or not - we have to take the AEC's word that their software tallies the (incredibly complex) preferences correctly.

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  • aguy:

    28 Nov 2014 9:49:52am

    Nothing seems odd here. Out of convenience some people will lie. If you take an approach of requiring proof and assessment the much greater issue of people wrongly being refused will occur unless the administration is pointless.

    Humans will always tell a fib to make their life easier. I doubt this is limited to Victoria. The Independent voting bodies can't do much about it.

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    • Blanik:

      28 Nov 2014 12:20:41pm

      So people lie to vote early. We are led to lie by our leaders, most notably by the current federal government, which I notice that the author has an alliance to that particular political party.

      I personally see no problem with voting when convenient, particularly when most voters had made their decision the day after the federal budget was 'exposed' by The Hon Joe Hockey.

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  • Tiliqua:

    28 Nov 2014 9:50:39am

    It is a farce anyway you look at it. People being forced to vote for a representative whos policies they barely know and whom will probably reneg on their stated policies anyway if it conflicts with the interests of their parties corporate donors.

    A far better system would be to implement direct democracy like the Swiss, where the electorate can propose and directly vote on the laws themselves. This removes the need for the corrupt political parties and their representatives.

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    • frangipani:

      28 Nov 2014 10:19:11am

      Oddly enough, the Swiss don't have governments that are any better than ours. It took them about 45 years to get around to giving women the vote, after every other developed country had done so, and they don't exactly scintillate with progressive legislation.

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      • Tiliqua:

        28 Nov 2014 1:27:07pm

        Yes, but on the other hand they are one of the few countries to legalise euthanasia. They may not have a lot of other progressive legislation, but what they do have is legislation that reflects the will of the community (including the female half now that they can vote), unlike in Australia where a good proportion of our legislation reflects the will of corporate donors to the political parties.

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  • Louise:

    28 Nov 2014 9:51:14am

    Obviously the author does not live outside a major centre ....... for people who have limited choice of polling place, and are busy doing other things on polling day, to have to rearrange your day to fit in a visit to a particular site, is one extra difficulty. Voting early while you are visting another place, gets the problem out of the way.

    Why does it matter? As long as we all vote, that is all that is important!!

    So what if we have to wait a few days ... a good thing, keeping all the pollies honest, not taking us for granted!! It is still a democratic vote.

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    • madmax:

      28 Nov 2014 10:08:33am

      I think if you vote early all that expensive advertisement will have no impact on your vote. It maybe argued that your voting without knowing all the facts, policies etc etc. I find it hard to keep from laughing when typing this because of all the lies told in those few weeks makes it all mean nothing.

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      • Blanik:

        28 Nov 2014 12:23:20pm

        Yes MM, I shared your dilemma.

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    • Mr Q:

      28 Nov 2014 2:18:36pm

      Having to rearrange your day?

      It's not like you don't have weeks of advance notice that an election is coming up. In Victoria, I doubt anyone is so far from a polling place that travelling there is outside the scope of normal activities - such as visiting a shop etc.

      If you were in places like the Federal electorates of Durack, Lingiari, Maranoa etc, then yes

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  • sgra10:

    28 Nov 2014 9:52:52am

    I'm not sure the case has been made as to WHY pre-poll voting is a bad thing? Surely people voting within the space of a few weeks, for what is a 4 year electoral term, is no big deal? They have not been disenfranchised and nor will the legitimacy of the outcome be affected...

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    • Crow:

      28 Nov 2014 10:15:56am

      I agree. The article suggested pre-poll voting occurred, and gave some examples of it, but gave no reasons as to why this was a bad idea

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    • Aaron:

      28 Nov 2014 3:54:40pm

      The implicit assumption is that the purpose of an election campaign is for the candidates to explain their policies to voters. Voting early reduces the ability of people to have those policies explained to them, and may result in people having voted for someone who does not best represent their interests.

      Personally, I think if you need to wait for an election campaign to understand what your various local candidates/parties stand for, then either you're not paying attention (in which case, you probably don't care and will vote according to some calculus unrelated to relative policy priorities - like, who's at the top of the page, who's best looking, "my dad always voted Labor/Liberal" etc) or they've given no indication of what they stand for until they go into campaign mode (in which case you probably shouldn't/don't believe anything they say). Either way, voting early ahead of all those precious explanations and promises probably makes very little difference to who gets your vote.

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  • whogoesthere:

    28 Nov 2014 9:53:25am

    What a weird article. Unlike some I believe in compulsory voting, so if we are required to vote then we should have options an when/how to vote. Modern life is busy with all sorts of working hours and other commitments. People (like me) may work on Saturday, or do kids sport on Saturday, or travel somewhere else, or might just want to do something relaxing on their day off. So why not vote early during a lunch break or whatever ?.

    The author seems to think Scotland would have descended into chaos if they'd had to wait a few days for the referendum result, how strange !. I think they just would have waited for the democratic process run it's course.

    Surely, with dis-satisfaction of our politicians so high there are more important things to be concerened about that when people vote ?. Opinion pieces usually have an agenda behind them, some subtle, some obvious, which is all fine. But I can't figure out what this one is.

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    • Bev:

      28 Nov 2014 10:08:09am

      You want compulsory voting but at your convenience not exactly considering it important are you? Just bring in non compulsory voting and you can indulge your convenience. No time, busy, other things to do? Just don't bother.

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      • whogoesthere:

        28 Nov 2014 10:58:31am

        Yes if voting is compulsory it should be convenient, I don't see the disconnect, it seems logical to me. Voting at a time other than the Saturday doesn't mean it's not important to the individual.

        As I said I work Saturdays. If it's OK for me to do a postal vote, then why is it not OK to vote early in person ?.

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      • frangipani:

        28 Nov 2014 11:05:33am

        But that doesn't explain why voting ahead of time is a bad thing. As long as you vote conscientiously, what does it matter if you do it this week or next week?

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      • whohasthefish:

        28 Nov 2014 11:13:06am

        I am with 'whogoesthere' on this one. I, for the life of me, cannot see the problem. The person votes, the vote gets counted, what's the problem. To say people are voting this way because it is convenient and for some reason that's a bad thing suggests that voting should be inconvenient. Is the Author suggesting that a voters intention should only be counted if they is a certain level of inconvenience in the process? Should we have to 'crawl over hot coals' for the privilege? Would that be seen as the appropriate level of inconvenience? A very weird article indeed.

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        • what:

          28 Nov 2014 11:53:08am

          some people think making things easier is necessarily a form of cheating, though they're not sure how.

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      • Susan:

        28 Nov 2014 1:32:57pm

        Having had the misfortune in the past to live in an area very poorly served with polling booths, and having stood in a line in a car park for an hour with kids running around uncontrolled (in all fairness, you can't blame the parents - how can you expect young children to stand still for so long?) and rain threatening, I can see the advantage to voting "at your convenience". Just because voting is compulsory doesn't mean it should be inconvenient, dangerous or just plain uncomfortable. I don't have a problem with early voting - and remember that our electoral system of voting on a Saturday was established when most people worked Monday to Friday. Life is different now. I fail to see what is the problem here.

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  • Frew:

    28 Nov 2014 9:56:00am

    What does it matter that people vote early? If you haven't made your mind up now, then you haven't been paying attention.

    Is it just that the author enjoys the spectacle of election day? If you vote and it gets counted then it shouldn't matter.

    In a more perfect democracy people could change their votes as they change opinion, eliminating election day altogether. That would stop politicians saying whatever they like before the election and doing whatever they like once in power (as we can see with the current federal government).

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  • Mulky:

    28 Nov 2014 9:56:35am

    I could not disagree more. Personally voting is an absolute waste of my time. Choosing between unscrupulous bastards from worst to least worst is pointless. If there was actually someone, somewhere to vote for that actually stood for something rather than the political complex we have now on their knees before corporate interests then I would happily get up early and vote with keen interest.

    As it is now, no matter who you vote for, the bastards win and Australia takes a further step backwards.

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    • Ginger Theredheeler:

      28 Nov 2014 5:10:48pm

      "no matter who you vote for, the bastards win and Australia takes a further step backwards"

      So, you want to fix that by not voting? How about fixing it by voting for better candidates? If there aren't any then why aren't you doing something about it? How about being part of the solution rather than part of the problem?

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  • sdrawkcaB:

    28 Nov 2014 9:57:02am

    I am an early voter for two reasons.

    One is its my Saturday and I will try and spend it how I want to. Normally it doesn't work like that and someone will take a large chunk of it - like a child. A 40 minute voting commitment on such a day just adds more stress.

    Two is by voting early, I do not have 8 people shoving their pamphlets in my face asking for my vote. I suggest that is the real reason for the article. As liberal party person, you miss out on that last change to shove your pamphlet in my hand. I get to be a free range human for a few microseconds.

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    • Mike:

      28 Nov 2014 2:16:48pm

      I absolutely agree with this sentiment. One of the most depressing sights at the polling centre is people being bombarded by a ton of paper that shouldn't be allowed within a country mile of the booths (and which most immediately toss in the bin). If you are so unintelligent to follow the "bouncing ball" as specified on this crap, you don't deserve to vote anyway.

      There should be NO....absolutely NO 'How to Vote Cards'. Ever.

      They make a mockery of our so-called democracy.

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      • Erika:

        28 Nov 2014 5:45:46pm

        For Mike: I find LNP "how to vote" pamphlets very useful - that way I know who to put last (and penultimate and antepenultimate and so on).

        I also hand the pamphlets back to the poor blighters who've been co-opted into handing out leaflets on election day and I pride myself on doing it in a way that does not reveal how I have voted. They are grateful to get them back - it saves them having to grummage through the bins towards the end of the day.

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  • Terry:

    28 Nov 2014 9:58:54am

    A very depressing read.

    While we all acknowledge that every citizen has a right to vote, few will insist that we also have a responsibility to vote. That includes a responsibility to be informed and to think of the consequences.

    That some people can't be bothered to sacrifice less than hour to vote would indicate that they are not likely to have given much thought to the impact of their vote.

    Before the moaning starts, I know that there are many valid reasons why some cannot make it to a polling place on the day of an election. I am not talking about those. I am talking about those voters whose only desire is to be "crossed of the list".

    Universal franchise, although unsatisfactory in many ways, is the only fair method. (Who will decide whether a voter is informed enough to deserve a vote?).

    But perhaps it is time to throw away the compulsory voting system. While doing so may lead to a few more Greens in Parliament as their supporters seem committed if not rational, it would also remove the Senate lottery which has seen a few people win a six year term.

    And it may lead to the major parties actually seeking to attract voters, rather than just looking less unattractive than each other.

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    • Craig:

      28 Nov 2014 10:45:21am

      People may spend substantial time considering their vote before they actually complete the ballot form, so the view that people only think about their choices while voting is both unsubstantiated and most likely untrue given the level of ongoing political commentary and discussion in the mied and amongst communities online and offline.

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    • Mango:

      28 Nov 2014 1:17:27pm

      The only thing that will remove the Senate lottery is a change in the voting system, preferably to the system used in the NSW Upper House. WHilst parties have control over above the line preference flows the lottery will continue.

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    • Aaron:

      28 Nov 2014 4:02:34pm

      I disagree entirely.

      Every person casting a pre-poll vote has taken the time out of their day to go and vote.

      This does not mean their vote is thoughtlessly given.

      You appear to be assuming that is only be waiting until the last day of an election campaign that one can be fully informed about who they are voting for. I find that idea odd, given our politician's recent track record on honesty in election campaigns (and, indeed, most other times) is not great.

      If you are an interested, engaged voter there are plenty of ways to weigh up your vote rather than watching campaign ads on TV. If you are not an interested and engaged voter, its highly unlikely an extra couple of weeks of electioneering is going to change that.

      I think tossing away compulsory voting would be a very poor idea. To stay in power, as Labor and, latterly, the coalition parties, are discovering, requires more than showing up. You actually need to get out on a daily basis and convince people of what you are doing. Big "get out the vote" campaigns simply entrench ideological positions - see the US for a simple example. Compulsory voting means that, to keep your votes, you need to keep meeting people's needs - not just encouraging more of your lot to trudge down the ballot box than the other side does.

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      • Disraeli:

        28 Nov 2014 6:01:24pm


        I'm sure that the major Parties would wholeheartedly agree with you.

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  • Tony:

    28 Nov 2014 10:02:34am

    Seriously only someone in a political party could take this view. The most important aspect of our democracy is having everyone vote, not your convenience in knowing the outcome on saturday night. Making it easier to vote is absolutely the right course.

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    • mt_syd:

      28 Nov 2014 11:34:28am

      and not just any political party

      making it harder to vote always favours conservative parties

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    • Disraeli:

      28 Nov 2014 5:52:20pm

      The most important aspect of our democracy is having everybody vote?

      You mean like in North Korea where they get 100%?

      Isnt the most important aspect having as many people as possible vote for a Candidate because they want (rather than are compelled ) to vote for him/her ?

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  • Tell It Like it Is:

    28 Nov 2014 10:03:36am

    The biggest problem with voting in Australia is the persistence with paper and pencils and all the officials required to tick off voters from a hard copy list and then physically count votes. All voting should be computerised. It is the 21st century. I fail to see how voting earlier by a few days or even a couple weeks makes any difference regarding the issue of "the right and responsibility to vote". Voters generally know who they are going to vote for, and why, well before the actual polling day. No politican is going to pull some crucial, defining rabbit out of hat just before polling day.

    Furthermore, the physical tallying of votes leaves open too much opportunity for fraud. Voters should be provided with a voting number whereby they can log-in on a home computer and cast their votes. Would save a great deal of time, money and manpower.

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    • Terry:

      28 Nov 2014 10:34:35am

      Ah, the simple faith of some.

      Exactly why is fraud easier when physical votes are concerned as opposed to electronic?

      In fact, large scale fraud is much easier electronically than physically. It takes a lot of effort to fake, steal or destroy thousands of paper votes. A couple of key strokes can easily do the same electronically.

      As for the pencils, it is not, as I have heard, so that the polling officials can rub out and change votes. (I assume while the scrutineers are not looking). It is because a pencil will not run out.

      And the issue is not voting beforehand: that has always been allowed for those unable to vote on the day. It is because allowing anyone who wants to vote early will cause delays in the count or greatly increase the cost.

      Why do it? Voting is a right, but also a responsibility. Many have died to get the right to vote: surely an Australian could spend a few minutes to exercise that vote?

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  • DavoSays:

    28 Nov 2014 10:06:53am

    What a lot of rubbish. The author somehow links "convenience voting" with VEC being unable to count the all votes on election night. Postal votes may be a problem but votes cast at local VEC offices are already sorted by electrate and are ready to count in the same way as ones cast on Saturday.

    If this is an example of Chris Earl's clear thinking, lets hope his party is not reelected on Saturday.

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    • Terry:

      28 Nov 2014 10:27:06am

      I don't think that DavoSays has ever worked on an election.

      To count postal votes on the night of the election would cost a fair amount of money to hire additional workers.

      Should we really be looking at increasing gov't expenditure so that people can avoid making a trip to a polling place on the day of the election?

      To date it has not been necessary as most people make an effort, however slight, to vote. As the author points out, this is no longer the case. So either we delay the result or we spend more money.

      Or, and I hesitate to mention this, Australians could recognise the responsibility and privilege that they possess and put aside (or delay) going to the beach, the shopping centre or the pub.

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      • Stephen:

        28 Nov 2014 10:57:32am

        Terry, I don't think you read correct what DavoSays actually wrote.

        To quote: "Postal votes may be a problem..."

        He was saying it's easy to count pre-poll votes on the night, not postal votes.

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  • blerter:

    28 Nov 2014 10:12:28am


    Lots of young people work weekends. But that's OK, cos they are less likely to vote Liberal.

    If only there was a simple electronic means of doing this, where people could sit down and think about the issues and candidates, rather than being surrounded by thousands idiots with how to vote cards, with massive queues behind you...

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  • GJA:

    28 Nov 2014 10:13:38am

    This article is just whinging, and pretty weird. Mandatory voting is fine, and giving up a bit of time on a weekend is, by and large, not so much of an issue. But we times have changed, and early voting helps the public meet its electoral obligation - why is that a problem? In the US, election day is a Tuesday because before cars and with a then-larger proportion of rural voters time had to be allowed for traveling to polling places; it's an anachronism. Saturday voting is becoming similar, in that there are plenty of people for whom this means losing working hours or for whom this presents other constraints on entirely reasonable limited time requirements than voting.

    You don't like it that some people might take advantage so they can go to the beach, or what? This is just a "you kids get off my lawn" article. Grow up.

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  • DangerMouse:

    28 Nov 2014 10:13:39am

    outside of the politically astutue and engaged, of whatever colour, politics and voting is a very boring sideshow in most peoples' lives.

    a number of reasons have caused this, not least the quality of polticians and political parties involved, but i believe one of the major reasons is that life in australia is relatively very easy for most peole with little change experienced in their day to day lives pre/post elections and governments of different stripes. before people jump up and down, i said relatively and most. there are exceptions, but they won't be the majority.

    we have bred a nation consumed with political and democratic apathy. people in other countries are dying for their own opportunity at democracy, people in australia die in lines to pick up the latest iphone.

    hence the old 20/20/60 rule is probably now the 5/5/90 rule.

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    • Happy Falang:

      28 Nov 2014 4:30:19pm

      Agree, however the problem that has caused the apathy is the rusted ons who vote and condone their parties performance no matter what. And us swingers are not much better, I still don't know why Howard got dumped other than oh well how about a change for the sake of change. I think parties realize they only have to convince the 20 or so percent of swingers and know the rusted ons will always be with them. And to be honest who cares who runs the little island down south somewhere I mean you and me could run it Mouse it ain't hard and definitely ain't complicated.

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  • Professor Rosseforp:

    28 Nov 2014 10:16:18am

    As the country has into a 7-day-a-week business, I see no reason to doubt that many people can't vote on election day. If they have the option to vote other days, why not?

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  • firthy:

    28 Nov 2014 10:22:05am

    The problem the author speaks of (a delay in the outcome where a close poll arises) is more due to our antiquated voting system rather than allowing pre-polls. Electronic voting woud fix all of that. And it would have flow on benefits too - no need to go back to the polls as WA voters had to because the electoral commission lost votes...

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    • schneids:

      28 Nov 2014 11:35:27am

      ...and of course it's perfectly secure because no one has ever hacked a computer system.

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      • sdrawkcaB:

        28 Nov 2014 12:34:50pm

        If that's case then what the hell are my banking and tax details doing on a corporate/government server?

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  • Mawson:

    28 Nov 2014 10:28:56am

    It is not so much the early voting which is the issue, it is the fact they are not included in the count on the night.

    This can be fixed - it takes some organisation but it can be fixed so that the count on the night does include pre-poll and absentee votes.

    The days of waiting a week for the postal votes to arrive by mail is surely a thing of the past.

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  • Andrew:

    28 Nov 2014 10:35:30am

    My wife and I live in Bendigo and this Saturday we are training to Melbourne to see Australia Opera perform at the State Theatre at 1:00pm. So to get there we catch the 8:30am train, which takes 2 hours or so, walk down to the Arts Centre, have some lunch and watch the opera and return to Bendigo, arriving after 6:00pm. So Chris when to you propose we vote given that the polls open at 8:00am and close at 6:00pm. Pre-polling is great and yes we had the how to vote cards stuffed into our hands out at the pre-poll centre at Strath Village SC. Not everyone, Chris, has cleared the dairy for Saturday just so we can vote on the day. If you abolish pre polling then open the booths longer. In the UK they open from 6:00am to 11:00pm on a Thursday. Far better arrangement.

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    • phil:

      28 Nov 2014 12:50:25pm

      You could vote outside your area.

      from memory they have a line just for this situation

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      • sdrawkcaB:

        28 Nov 2014 1:27:45pm

        Sounds like Andrew has a nice day lined up.

        Politicians have been more then happy to watch the destruction of our social fabric due to neo-liberalism. This was touted at the outset in 1983 when Hawke and Keating decided we would go this way.

        I say its more important that Andrew treat his wife and keep the options open for him (and her) to exercise their civic duty on another day.

        Its merely a duty. It does not need to have the joy sucked out of it like everything else.

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      • Andrew:

        28 Nov 2014 1:35:51pm

        And how does help, phil, voting on the day. The point I was trying to make is that we are time poor on Saturday so pre-polling was useful to our circumstance.

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  • Nova4avr:

    28 Nov 2014 10:38:40am

    This pre poll voting is something reasonably new & I am not in favour of it as it means any last minute changes, such as a corruption allegation against a politician or some political party misbehaviour will not be included in those pre poll votes.

    We have had voting day attendance for years with some options for postal votes & that was able to be coped with by the electorate & should be continued.

    A few comments by some have asked why those pre poll votes can't be counted beforehand. The answer to that is it will be leaked for sure, as we just cannot trust the system.

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  • Craig:

    28 Nov 2014 10:41:28am

    The notion of restricting voting to a given day, between given times at given locations, is an old fashioned and restrictive one that bears no relevance in a modern society.

    Chris Earl may pine for the 'good old days' when voting was limited in hours adn people had to travel by foot or horse for hours to vote, however in a modern society it should be possible to vote from any location, at any time within a set period (longer than a day).

    My biggest concern over early voting is how political parties are holding back release of key policies until election eave, which means that people who vote early might be doing so before fully understanding a party's platform.

    However to address this I'd prefer it be mandated that a party publish all of their policies, in a standard open format (for comprability across parties) when an election is called - six weeks before voting closes and the election count begins.

    In this way people would have a fair shot of understanding party positions and directly comparing them - something that is virtually impossible today beyond the top ten or so policies.

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    • Tiliqua:

      28 Nov 2014 1:31:28pm

      If a party has not spelt out its policies in detail well in advance of the election then that is a good sign that one should not vote for them. Another is if that have a history of blatently lying about what they will do after the election, both major parties spring to mind there.

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  • Alex Read:

    28 Nov 2014 10:47:56am

    When is there going to be some serious investment in computerised voting at a polling station? It would be quicker and cheaper to count. It would also make voting in the upper house substantially easier.

    Imagine you want to vote for the Liberals in the Senate at the next Commonwealth Election but you don't like that they have preferenced the Nationals second. You want Labor second, but you don't particularly care about the individual senators.

    Your current options are to vote for the Liberals above the line and be lumped with the Nationals as second preference, or to laboriously fill out some 140 preferences.

    Now imagine that you could have a computer system that allows you to more easily control the flow of preferences. You press a button and it auto-fills the Liberal candidates as one to six. Then you click a button and it autofills Labor 7-12. Then you decide, after you've filled everything else, that you do want a Labor guy as your first non-Liberal preference, but you can't stand Stephen Conroy, so then you can swap him out when you get to the end without needing to get a new ballot sheet.

    You could also have a graphical representation of the flow of preferences on the side of the screen.

    Imagine how much quicker and easier it would be for voters to control their own flow of preferences with a system like the above?

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    • Professor Rosseforp:

      28 Nov 2014 11:22:57am

      Filling in 140 preferences by hand sounds a lot simpler than your scenario, Alex, and if the pencils have good quality lead, there is less chance of a computer crash, and virtually no chance of hacking.

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    • James Picone:

      28 Nov 2014 12:53:00pm

      Or maybe just allow preferences above the line and let parties specify preference ordering of their candidates?

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    • deadcat:

      28 Nov 2014 1:14:55pm

      If computer voting is going to become that easy, why not give everyone the right to vote any time? If polly is up to his neck in corruption, vice or something else you don't like - opposing daylight saving, for instance, you could sit at the keyboard and register a disapproval vote. If the number of disapproval votes passes the number of votes the polly obtained to get elected, he/she would be immediately kicked off the gravy train and another elected. It would give people control of the country and get rid of parliamentary pensions and large expense payments - as all politicians would be required to work from home using video conferencing via computer.

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  • Juliett:

    28 Nov 2014 10:52:56am

    what a storm in a teacup!

    who cares when you vote, surely its more important to ensure everyone can participate as easily as possible? why make it harder than it needs to be?

    i don't work or go to synagogue on saturdays but with several small kids in tow all day every staurday, standing in the queue for an unpredictably long period just to vote is a pain in the arse. so its a psotal/pre-vote or nothing from me & many others like me.

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  • Count 2 two:

    28 Nov 2014 10:53:19am

    There is only a few 1000 Australians who want Democracy in Australia and a handful citizens who want electronic voting.

    The rest is like ripples in an unconcious sea in coma.

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  • libootato:

    28 Nov 2014 10:57:23am

    I agree with Chris. How dare the plebs get to enjoy a bit of convenience. They should be overjoyed give up hours of their weekends for this important duty.

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  • AgentSmith:

    28 Nov 2014 10:59:43am

    People use pre-poll voting to avoid having to wait in long queues and be bombarded with how-to-vote cards from a conga line of party spruikers.

    The irony is that at the last federal election there was no queue at the polling booth I went to. I was in and out in a few minutes.

    Regarding preferences, there are a number of websites which you can use to prepare your own how-to-vote card before the poll. That's what I did, and will continue to do from now on.

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  • TravOfQld:

    28 Nov 2014 11:03:17am

    I'd vote if there was somebody I trusted - but they are politicians, so by definition they are the MOST untrustworthy individuals.

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  • Confused:

    28 Nov 2014 11:12:37am

    Lets sum up the author's points:

    1. Religion is a valid excuse for early voting.

    2. Lifestyle choices are not a valid excuse for early voting.

    Please let me know if I missed something.

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    • PellyintheWilderness:

      28 Nov 2014 1:16:43pm

      Jews and SDAs conscientiously object to voting on Saturday, because their religions require that day to be observed as a day of rest. Many Christians would similarly object to having to vote on Sunday.

      Lifestyle choices are just that, choices.

      It's the difference between thinking something is wrong, and simply not wanting to do it.

      Whether or not you think these beliefs are warranted is not the point. In our society we make allowances for conscientious objection, as we should.

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      • confused:

        28 Nov 2014 1:52:59pm

        And subscribing to the tenets of those religions is a lifestyle choice.

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        • PellyintheWilderness:

          28 Nov 2014 4:58:14pm

          Actually, no. Acting in accordance with one's beliefs, especially as they pertain to morals and ethics, is a matter of conscience. Belief is not voluntarily acquired, it is a result of upbringing or conversion.

          I'm not talking about people who are members of a religion for purely social or traditional reasons.They may practise, but they do not believe.

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  • beemer28:

    28 Nov 2014 11:14:31am

    I can see that Chris is a bit worried that when people have voted early in this election it may favour the ALP. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but now the vote appears to be a little closer than it was when pre-polling opened the, 1/3 of early votes may skew the vote to the ALP.

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  • Dean:

    28 Nov 2014 11:16:41am

    The people I've spoken to who have already voted tend to be more educated and engaged voters. The ones who turn up on the day like lemmings tend to be the ones less engaged and only just thought about it.

    There are of course a few old timers waiting for the last week of election campaigning to see if any of the leopards will change their spots.

    If the problem with early voting is vote counting, change the counting system, not the voting system.

    How hard can it be to ship them all around and count them on Sunday? And is it really so bad if the decision isn't known until Monday? What's one more day of caretaker government make a difference?

    If you were to poll the people, I would think a good 80-90% of people would be in favour of early polling being available.

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  • Peter B:

    28 Nov 2014 11:24:16am

    What a strange article. Why can't people vote before election day if they want to? Why can't people vote at their convenience, as long as they actually vote? The only part I agree with is the second last paragraph - I agree that pre-poll votes should be counted on election night.

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  • schneids:

    28 Nov 2014 11:33:29am

    The only reason Chris Earl has his knickers in a twist over this is that working class people who work all day Saturday are less likely to vote Liberal. Early polling gives them the chance to vote. Like the rest of the Liberal party, he'd like to see as many of these people disenfranchised as possible.

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  • Nein:

    28 Nov 2014 11:35:47am

    Two issues here: on-time counting of votes and pre-poll voting.

    Obviously the votes need to be counted on time.

    However, I genuinely don't understand the author's objection to pre-poll voting for reasons of convenience. What's important is the vote, not the election-day ritual. Democracy is in the vote. So long as people are voting responsibly, then they should certainly do so at their convenience.

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    • Cloud Spirit:

      28 Nov 2014 12:03:39pm

      I agree 'Nein' - it doesn't matter when people vote (as long as they do), but I don't see why all the votes shouldn't be counted on the Saturday night.

      How can these people be so apathetic, for Heaven's sake! Maybe the Liberals just want to hold on to power for a couple of extra days...

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  • saline:

    28 Nov 2014 11:50:12am

    There are two issues here:

    1. When the pre-poll votes are counted. This is easily fixed because they can be counted at the pre-poll venue at the close of the poll, the same as all other polling places.

    2. Problems of pre-polling. Information available to voters may not be available in it's entirety until the evening before polling day. A vote may be cast for the wrong candidate due to lack of information. Vote on election day if possible.

    The latter I have heard many times, I am not all that young.

    3. The early count of votes. If they are counted and released before the poll opens, or during the polling hours they have an influence on the final figures of the ballot. I have heard of this happening from more than one source.

    The ultimate aim is "free and fair elections".

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  • Peter:

    28 Nov 2014 11:53:14am

    I was bemused by this article, especially the histrionic tag line, until I read who the author was. It is normal for right wing extremists to want to restrict the voting capacity of electors, the reason being that it is workers and other 'left leaning' voters who would be most disadvantaged by this therby reducing the non-right wing vote.

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  • saline:

    28 Nov 2014 11:55:49am

    There are simple things that can be done to discourage pre-polling.

    Legislate that these voters should make an appointment to pre-poll.

    Require several documents of proof that they are who they claim to be.

    Require a written submission of their reason for pre-polling.

    Require a declaration that they have enough information to form an opinion for their intended vote.

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    • Nonrev:

      28 Nov 2014 12:59:23pm

      So what you are implying is that we all live in a cave only to come out on voting day.

      Unless you lived in a cave, you can hardly miss the tsunami of propaganda from all sides of politics that consumes the TV, not to mention the media, and don't forget the Internet.

      But then TV and Internet are hard to get when you live in a cave, and it is too dark to read newspapers.

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      • saline:

        28 Nov 2014 5:31:51pm

        Please be more kind to me Nonrev, please...

        I proposed some ideas that might appeal to some of folk who are trying to alter a system which basically works.

        The polls aren't declared until some 13 days after polling day because of postal votes, unless there is a clear, unsurpassable majority without those votes. That the pre-poll votes can be a deciding factor in the ballot is a bit of a long shot. It involves only a few days.

        I believe the Returning Officer can have them counted as soon as the polls close if there is a seriously pressing reason. It is up to him/her.

        If it's not broke...

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    • Susan:

      28 Nov 2014 1:42:05pm

      Scary stuff Saline : "Require a declaration that they have enough information to form an opinion for their intended vote." Since when does any election require that voters be informed? If you think that this is ok for prepollers, then it should be ok for everyone, hmmm? Thankfully for us all, I doubt you are in a position where you are enacting legislation that controls us all. This is an awful idea.

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      • saline:

        28 Nov 2014 5:16:44pm

        Gosh! Thanks for the reply.

        "Since when does any election require that voters be informed?"

        I don't suppose you need to be informed to vote.

        In some electorates you can be dead for some years.

        You can even be in the very last stages of dementia, and your relatives can help you vote.

        Before changes are made to a system such as SO is pushing for, there needs to be a full investigation. Convenience is only part of the argument. We all have a point to push.

        Which is demonstrated by the responses I received.

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  • Larry:

    28 Nov 2014 11:56:15am

    Well it's certainly great to hear the "barking-mad gibberish of the distant past" point of view. The ABC even running this is a waste of interweb paper,. Yeah, voting should be as inconvenient as possible so we appreciate the 'privilege'. Honestly.

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    • dynofish:

      28 Nov 2014 12:18:01pm

      I agree wholeheartedly. I take my voting very seriously...so much so that I have reviewed the ballot papers and preference allocations online so that I do it so my vote has maximum impact. It is simply that it would be quite inconvenient as I am away from my electorate on this weekend.

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  • One off:

    28 Nov 2014 12:05:25pm

    I don't see the problem. If voting is to be compulsory it should also be convenient.

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  • Not Such a Golden Oldie:

    28 Nov 2014 12:26:45pm

    What a lot of fuss about nothing!

    Problem with early votes counted on Monday? Easy fix, count them on Saturday with all the others. If they hadn't voted early and turned up to vote on the Saturday that would have been the situation.

    I'm pleased to see that in Victoria there is now Optional Preferential Voting in the Upper House, 5 votes must be cast and any other votes are optional. It would be even better if the Lower House voting was also Optional Preferential Voting, 1 vote must be cast and all others are optional. Why should my vote be not counted because I don't wish to preference some of the candidates. And let's get rid of above the line voting and how to vote cards.

    I am in favour of compulsory voting, in other countries when the turnout is low, sometimes due to apathy and sometimes due to voters being actually discouraged from voting by various means, it cannot be said that the result is an accurate representation of the whole electorate's views.

    Sooner or later electronic voting is going to happen and I don't have a problem with it, providing that it can be made rort-proof.

    In the past the major parties have been the major beneficiaries of compulsory preferential voting, because we are forced to vote for one or the other of them, whether we want to or not and the votes usually flow down to one or the other. In the Senate we now have the phenomenon of a group of minor parties gaming the system, so that we have senators elected with only a handful of primary votes. That's rubbish!

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  • Hmmmph:

    28 Nov 2014 12:36:59pm

    Well it's a joke of course, but what our coastal dwelling suburbanites think and talk about all day. Still, that's what will become more & more prevalent, as the kitchen redesign and parquet pavers have more say than people being tortured to death in other-country horrors.

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  • polony:

    28 Nov 2014 12:54:59pm

    Pre-poll voting is only a problem for democracy if useful information for voters only comes out between when they vote and the final election date.

    If the old parties choose to drip feed information with staged events, that is their fault.

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  • Nonrev:

    28 Nov 2014 12:55:41pm

    If people make up their minds early about who they were going to vote for, early voting allows them to discharge their democratic responsibility.

    It is absolute nonsense that, like a herd of lemmings, everybody should go to their place of polling on one single day. The days of ritually being ticked off the paper electoral rolls are over.

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  • Yakadeeyak:

    28 Nov 2014 12:56:25pm

    The world has moved on from the days when suburbs were dependant around the local train station 100 year ago and everyone had weekends off, people can and do move around more than they once did, work drags many away from their home. I voted on Tuesday, there is no way I can get back to Melbourne on the day as I am stuck interstate for work during this period. My vote does not change be it done on Tuesday or Saturday.

    In a way, I found it was also much more enjoyable to vote, I did not have to join a time wasting queue, I did not have multiple leaflets thrust upon me, so one only hopes the day will come where we can vote from the convenience of our own home!

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    • susan:

      28 Nov 2014 4:46:28pm

      to Yakadeeyak: Agree profoundly with you.

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  • bill:

    28 Nov 2014 1:00:05pm

    Surely getting people to vote is a good objective. So what if people vote prior to the designated voting day.

    But early votes should not be counted until vote counting normally starts.

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  • Gumlass:

    28 Nov 2014 1:05:33pm

    What a stupid article. People are keen enough to plan ahead and vote early, and the author whinges about it.

    Next time you have a deadline to meet, why not write about something important. E.g. why the two party system is a pox on our democracy.

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  • Rick:

    28 Nov 2014 1:17:05pm

    It was Churchill who said 'democracy is the worst form of government - except for all that others that have been tried'. We send our military to defend/fight for democracy but for many of us being interested enough to listen to the debates as to why one party or another should be elected is a bridge too far.

    Pre poll voting should be tightly restricted to those unable to vote on election day. Proof of that inability should be required e.g. a paid ticket for overseas travel. We have absentee voting available on election day as well as postal voting so there are many options for us to exercise our democratic right. Convenience should not be part of the equation.

    Turning up to vote on election day to vote should be a joy and a celebration of a protection for our way our life that a minority in the world are afforded.

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  • Tom N.:

    28 Nov 2014 1:26:07pm

    This is a pretty silly article.

    It is premised on the notion that the option to vote early for social and lifestyle considerations implies that those reasons are being put 'above' the importance of voting.

    Now, if people were able to use social or lifestyle consideration as a reason NOT TO VOTE, then there would be some substance to the premise.

    But, in reality, voting and having the flexibility to better organise/schedule your social or other activities are not mutually exclusive choices. The author's "argument" fails at this first hurdle.

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  • A pocketful of wry:

    28 Nov 2014 1:30:07pm

    Just so I'm clear on this - an entrenched member of the political class is troubled that some of us in the public may have lied?

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  • Lee eel:

    28 Nov 2014 1:58:13pm

    It appals me when I hear people moaning about the imposition of having to take 30 minutes out of their day every few years to participate in our democracy. This incredible "burden" is something people in other countries dream of having and get shot at in the process of trying to have.

    I have no sympathy for people who feel voting is some great inconvenience. It isn't.

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  • Rancid Remark:

    28 Nov 2014 1:59:43pm

    What the hell does it matter when you vote? If you vote a fornight before or on the day matters not one whit! Are we all supposed to sit around and listen to all the hype and b/s that they put on tv, radio and newspapers before we go and vote for whomever we were going to vote for 2 weeks ago. Ads and b/s will not change my vote so why not vote early and forget the rest of it.

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  • Kerry:

    28 Nov 2014 2:20:01pm

    The AEC staff don't get the salaries of politicians Chris Earl. Nor does the AEC have the staffing ratios that politicians have. The AEC do not have the resources to pay staff overtime to count all of the votes in the hours after an election as you want. Nor should the tax payer fund your wish list.

    Shows how disconnected the political process is.

    ABC online news (Tasmania) has a report on fines imposed by the Court for some Tasmanians who refused to vote in the Federal election 2013. An extract:

    "The court heard when asked by the electoral commission why he did not vote in the last federal election, the 45-year-old replied he did not "believe democracy equals voting for the least worst" candidate.

    The court heard he told the commission "all the candidates were known to be dishonest and or incompetent or both" and "no candidate represented [his] needs as a community member"."

    Chris, surely focussing on why a member of the public feels that way is more important for politicians and those that are part of the political party machine rather than lamenting about the fact that some voters might consider other things more important in their lives on election day.

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  • Abraxas:

    28 Nov 2014 2:30:26pm

    "Election day has become election month ... all in the name of convenience. Is that why we vote?"

    No we vote so that we no longer have to grab a claymore and man the barricades chopping up the neighbors to decide who forms the next government.

    Shooting the Tsar and burning the witch might seem like a good idea especially to the more GB among us but basically it's wasteful of time, money and resources.

    Electronic vote talliers might be a god send for Electoral commissions but one must remember corporations own the machines and they have a very $olid interest in who wins so yeah I agree we need a distributed checkable paper trail to follow.

    All in all we have a pretty good system, even the corporate mafia need to fund Think Tanks and so forth instead of burning crosses and lynch mobs.

    I think we have learned how not to do things from the USA, so while I agree with you we need not take a dim view of out system. Even if it takes a few days before being wistful about those barricades.

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  • Pensioner:

    28 Nov 2014 2:41:19pm

    How about getting rid of preferential voting? That would speed the process of counting votes up a great deal.

    By the way, I voted in advance. That's because I have arthritis and chronic back pain, and standing in line waiting to vote is painful. I'm grateful I was able to avoid it this time.

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  • lilly:

    28 Nov 2014 3:29:53pm

    Another option is to vote via touch screens at the polling both. The touch screens would be independent (not connected to the web). At the end of polling, the data from each touch screen could be collected and downloaded to the Electoral Commission computer via a secure connection. The Electoral Commision computer could then do the tally automatically. The end result would be available within an hour of closing the booths.

    The memory sticks from the touch screens could then be taken back to the AEC and a separate count performed later on to verify that none of the data was fiddled in transit.

    To prevent people from voting more than once at the touch screen, maybe issue voters with a peice of paper containing a unique bar code when they register. The voter would then swipe the bar code across the voting machine to activate it. The machine would only activate for bar codes that are assigned to it and once the bar code had been swiped, it couldn't be used again.

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  • Reginald:

    28 Nov 2014 3:46:52pm

    Is nobody concerned with the extra cost of staffing all these pre-polling centres?

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  • Will:

    28 Nov 2014 3:57:47pm

    Of course it is seen as a chore, something to get out of the way. It doesn't matter who we vote for, we get screwed. People don't see the value of voting because they don't beleive anything will change. People are voting with their eyes closed because they don't care.

    If you want people to show up on voting day they have to beleive that their vote will count. The when and where isn't the problem, it's what happens next.

    It's not as if the system is without flaw, pollies promise what the people want to hear before the election and then do whatever they want once they are in office. Why would it matter who we vote for? There is no insentive to vote, its just another thing we have to do to avoid being fined.

    It's forced democracy. If only the people who actually cared voted the system would be drastically different as would the outcomes of the elections.

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    • saline:

      28 Nov 2014 5:47:01pm

      That's easy fixed Will, just teach voters to hate one side or another and they'll be on the doorstep on polling day, waiting for the doors to open so they can do their bit to kick someone's butt.

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  • susan:

    28 Nov 2014 4:45:03pm

    A vote is a vote is a vote no matter when it's cast.

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  • AttendUmust:

    28 Nov 2014 5:04:24pm

    "It's forced democracy."

    No, you only have to attend & have your name crossed off, and not vote at all, but I prefer to actually vote.

    " If only the people who actually cared voted the system would be drastically different as would the outcomes of the elections."

    Yes, then you suggest a we have a voluntary vote, and leave those left who " actually cared" vote for who else ??

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  • Erika:

    28 Nov 2014 5:39:58pm

    This article strikes me as a bit of rear-guard action.

    The world is not the same as it was in the 1950s or 1960s. Australia is much more a 24/7 country than it used to be. The idea of people gathering physically in appointed places on an appointed day seems increasingly quaint and old fashioned.

    While older people may see having a vote as a privilege as well as an obligation, younger people increasingly see it only as an obligation and certainly not as a means to participate in a significant way in democracy.

    The author would have done better to look at ways of counting of pre-poll votes in a timely and efficient manner, rather than bemoaning the numbers of people who chose to cast their votes that way.

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  • Brian Jones:

    28 Nov 2014 5:40:21pm

    Given that a lot of people now work on Saturdays pre poll voting is a great idea. Maximising the turnout must be a good thing for democracy. Surely online voting is just around the corner so people won't have to go to a polling booth at all.

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  • Disraeli:

    28 Nov 2014 5:43:25pm

    People are asked "Will you be unable to vote on Saturday?" ... and

    the vast majority will lie.

    And the VEC is complicit in this . A major benefit for the VEC is that the queues on Saturday are reduced and stress on their workers is reduced.

    But, hey, whats another little lie? We have Compulsory Voting but the politicians tell us that "You dont really have to vote", nudge-nudge wink-wink.

    The electoral process in Australia is a joke. Its seen by many voters as an irritating interruption to their social life. Lies abound as in "I wont be able to vote on Saturday". "Voting is Compulsory". "Our system has served us well". "We have the most democratic system in the world". "95% turnouts mean that almost everyone has participated."

    And then there are the nonsensical objections to online voting. Other posters cover them. I simply say that it is just too convenient for the major Parties to keep it as it is. (They can use their volunteers to be at every polling centre).

    Another lie? What about How-To-Votes? Why not have them in every voting booth protected maybe by hard plastic, with prison penalties for marking them? Others have suggested it before me ... but the major parties would have their strengths lessened and smaller parties improved.

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  • Rob Simons:

    28 Nov 2014 6:05:16pm

    What a rediculous argument against early voting. I won't be voting on Saturday the 29th, because heaven forbid, I have to turn up at my place of employment, like I do for 6 out of every 8 Saturdays.

    While the VEC may have decided to not count early votes until Monday, there is nothing stopping them from counting them earlier - either on Saturday night, or Sunday - after all, the early voting closes 6pm on the Friday, so there is nothing preventing them from being boxed up & ready to count on Saturday night along with all the others.

    Personally, after having spending 5 days handing out how-to-vote material at my local booth, I can see a day when the vast majority of voting occurs before 'the' day - and I would support it. No huge circus, no fighting the crowds or looking for a car-park. Much more civilised. Keep the booths open on the Saturday, count all day Sun day, job done.

    Early voting is the way forward, and people are much more likely to vote based on how the various candidates have performed well prior to election day, and not get swayed by the last-minute rash promises of desperate politicians who'll tell any lie at the finish line to get ahead.

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  • Redhillgal:

    28 Nov 2014 6:08:33pm

    I voted 2 weeks ago as I live in a seat that would need a 14% swing to change....my vote counts for NOTHING. If I lived in a swinging seat I would not vote until polling day.

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  • Anthony:

    28 Nov 2014 7:08:55pm

    Pre-polling is good.

    It stops last minute negative attack add camoiagn tactics in teh last days of the campaign. It means that Parties have to sell their message and have their policies and formance assessed in teh period leading up to election day and not just on the day itself. Last minute events such as Baby overboard can not impact to the same extent and are able to be subjected to more rigorous analysis.,

    What I do find objectionable is the media and the ABC failure to subject the Green Party and some of the other minor parties policies and preference deals to proper scrutiny. Many 0f the minor parties such as the Animal Justice Party, Sex Party and the new Cyclist Party are just fronts and feeder parties for the Greens. not one is likely to come close to securing sufficient votes to come lose to being elected.

    The adoption of Optional Preferential voting will make voting below the line in the upper-house defunct. The VEC should be advocating that voters interlining to vote below the line, so as to maximise their vote should number a preference in order of their choice for EVERY Candidate. Their is no justification or reason why voters should be informed that they only need to preference five candidates. A voter that stops at 5 can have unintended consequences. As was the case in Western Metro in 2010. 25,000 Christian voters voters for Christian Candidates and stopped. As a result they elected the Greens candidate, Colleen Hartland, by default, Had they preferenced through to Labor. the Labor Party would have been elected in the last position not the Greens.

    VOTER BEWARE... Make your vote count. Number EVERY square

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Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown


Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Source:Denver Post

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Source:Daily Kos

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown


Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown

Source:Daily Kos

Early Voting An Option If You\'re Affected By Wando Bridge Shutdown