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Why vote?

A reader wonders, what is so un-Australian about choosing not to vote?


I’ve been voting since I was 18 years old. I couldn’t wait. I followed my family, voting Liberal, until I started working in a factory. I joined the Union and began voting Labor, because Labor was for the people.

These days I don’t see the difference between Labor and Liberal. I find politicians corrupt and hypocritical. I just don’t want to vote.

People are going to say that’s un-Australian. What is un-Australian about making a democratic choice?

Why do I have to explain it to the authorities? Why should I receive a fine, or worse? Why should I be thrown in jail with real criminals, when the only “crime” I have committed is I just don’t want to vote?


Some perceive that political parties do not always keep their election promises and therefore see politicians and the parties they represent negatively. Many politicians however are not hypocritical or corrupt. They have positive motivations with the aim of making improvements to their communities.

The political parties do have differences in their ideas and ideology, and their stated policies are often available on their websites.

It is accurate that if your name appears on the electoral roll and you do not attend an electoral booth on election day a small fine will be issued. Jail sentences are not handed out for not voting.

There are arguments for and against compulsory voting. In Australia about 94 per cent of the population votes on election day, compared to 60 per cent in the United Kingdom where voting is not compulsory. The international experience demonstrates that in countries in which voting is not compulsory, the people who don’t vote are the poor and disenfranchised. The argument for compulsory voting is it provides this group with some influence over who governs so there is a possibility of their situation improving.

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