Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Democracy in Action...

I have to vote in the US Senate Election Tomorrow. Okay, I don't have to vote, but being an Australian American, voting is something we do.

Australia has compulsory voting, which I am overwhelmingly supportive of.

People often assume that the point of compulsory voting is to somehow educate people about politics - to force them to have an opinion. The reality has nothing to do with voters, and everything to do with ensuring good governance - By forcing politicians to care about every voter, rather than just the ones who can be bothered to go down to the poll both and vote, it means that politicians are consequently forced to address the needs of all the citizens in the country. Under a non compulsory voting system, it's mainly the wealthy and educated who vote. I was a little shocked to find out that part of the aim of the campaign advertisements that have been confusing me for the last month on TV is not to encourage voters to vote for one candidate or another, but to discourage people from voting at all.

Nonplussed, I'm going down to the local poll booth tomorrow (along with an estimated 40% of the population) to exercise my democratic right as to who represents the state of Virginia in the Senate.

The problem here is that I really can't find anything at all appealing in any of the candidates. I know that the Republican is an alleged racist, and the Democrat is an alleged sexist. The independent green lady seems to be a bit short on any policy not involving trains (and her website doesn't work in Firefox) ...

If anyone can offer me some compelling arguments before polling day, I'd sure appreciate it!


  1. Well at least you know who not to vote for. Check out this post from Tom Hollander for more Aussie-in-the-US election impressions.

  2. Not that I'm a pedant or anything, but compulsory voting was introduced in Australia in the interwar period because voter turnout had fallen so low (c. 60%) that it seriously threatened the legitimacy of the Australian democracy.

    You're right though, compulsory voting is important for a real representative democracy, and for some modicum of social justice.

    First-past-the-post is a bigger enemy of democracy, I think. It entrenched the retarded two-party system.

  3. It's a referendum on the presidency. Vote anything other than Republican.