She might not give you a week to fix up your enrolment, you know

You might remember how Howard changed the electoral system to try to knock as many young and poor voters off the rolls as possible, and how Labor was trying to re-enfranchise them but was being blocked by the Coalition and Fielding?

Well, it hasn’t been fixed yet, and the Prime Minister is, it appears, about to call an election. And, since Howard’s changes have not yet been reversed, this means that the rolls will close at 8pm on the day the election writs are issued. Gillard can of course call the election just by saying “it’s going to be on X date” and then have the writs issued a week later, giving disorganised and new voters a chance to fix up their enrolments as if the original democratic system prevailed.

But – as time goes on, and people realise that Gillard’s ALP is just as barely distinguishable from the Coalition as Rudd’s ALP, the party is again haemorrhaging votes to the Greens. Maybe the young, lefty voters that Howard worked so hard to disenfranchise are no longer really ALP friends. Under the present law, they don’t have to give them any more notice than a few hours – maybe they won’t.

You’d think that Labor’s desire to keep the Coalition out of office would trump its desire to keep the Greens out of parliament, but you never know…

ELSEWHERE: Antony Green explains what makes a ballot paper not count.

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53 responses to “She might not give you a week to fix up your enrolment, you know

  1. Splatterbottom

    “the young, lefty voters “

    Do you mean the disorganised drongos too stupid to even be bothered to get registered, and who as such will obviously be left supporters?

  2. I mean younger voters in general, who tend left, and poorer people who are more likely to move rental houses and also tend left.

    And yes, the system does tend to alienate and encourage the disengagement of the young and poor. Doesn’t make them “drongos” though.

    Nice to see the arrogant elitism of the right shining through openly for once.

  3. Blast Tyrant

    And yes, the system does tend to alienate and encourage the disengagement of the young and poor.

    The system also currently does tend to alienate and encourage the disengagement of left leaning people as well.
    That’s because both the major parties are anti gay, anti human rights, anti worker and pro business.

    Nice to see the arrogant elitism of the right shining through openly for once.
    Indeed. It’s especially hypocritical as well considering SB usually accuses the left of elitism.
    But hardly surprising.

  4. And of course here’s the handy electoral enrolment checker – helpful for those of us who have a tendency of moving a lot, and are damned if we can remember what address we were at last time there was an election:

    https://oevf.aec.gov.au/

  5. Splatterbottom

    the system does tend to alienate and encourage the disengagement of the young and poor

    Ah yes, the evil ‘system’ again. The fundamental difference between the left and the rest is the degree to which personal responsibility, as opposed to the ‘system’, is seen as likely to produce change for the better.

    The agenda of the left is to control the system, making it impossible for people to screw up their lives. Of course this is an unrealistic goal and has led to more misery suffering and death than any other ideology in history.

    The rest of us want a system that helps in emergencies, has fair rules and encourages personal responsibility.

  6. “The fundamental difference between the left and the rest is the degree to which personal responsibility, as opposed to the ‘system’, is seen as likely to produce change for the better.’

    No, it’s the degree to which you think people should have fair opportunities or not. To which you think the powerful should be able to exploit the weak.

    Whether you’re naive enough to think that we presently live in a genuine meritocracy.

  7. Splatterbottom

    The problem is that the left believes that governments have the ability to impose fairness. This is only true to a limited extent. Forcing or encouraging people to assume the victim role has many downsides for those people, although it adds relevance and meaning to the vacuous lives of miserable leftists.

    Human nature and human society is too complex to be controlled by those with an arrogant belief in their own power to govern fairly. It is better to empower people by teaching them the virtues of hard work and common decency, while also providing opportunities for self-improvement.

  8. Encouraging people to be victims? Oh, come on.

  9. Splatterbottom

    But Jeremy, that is precisely what is happening in places where welfare dependency is a way of life for each succeeding generation. Rewarding people for sitting on their arses instead of getting up off them is an exercise in class reproduction and, importantly for leftists, the reproduction of another generation of lefty voters.

  10. Blast Tyrant

    The problem is that the left believes that governments have the ability to impose fairness
    What a ridiculous statement.

    It is better to empower people by teaching them the virtues of hard work and common decency
    Hmm, how exactly are refugees supposed to learn these things when locked in detention or being sent back to face genocide and conflict our governments have supported or played a role in?
    And considering our system favours both major parties, both of whom seem pretty much identical, it’s not that large a step to say the current system is broken.

  11. “Rewarding people for sitting on their arses instead of getting up off them”

    That’s not what welfare does. It keeps people alive when they don’t have any options, but it’s hardly luxurious.

    Seriously, how would you survive on $230/week? ($208 if you’ve a partner.)

    What we should be doing is making sure there are better opportunities for people to gain skills and develop rewarding careers, rather than leaving them stuck in a cycle of hopeless poverty.

  12. shabadootwo

    I’m not sure what the big deal is here. I thought that ignorance of the law was no excuse, and that in any case Australia’s unique compulsory voting requirements were hardly a secret. Anyone who doesn’t fix up their enrollment has no one to blame but themselves. And those who are too ignorant or disorganised to do so are hardly the sort of people we want on the rolls anyway. Aristotle would be appalled, and rightly so!

  13. The point of the electoral law is to get people voting, not unnecessarily punishing them for being disorganised.

    There’s no good reason why people shouldn’t have a week after an election is called to fix up their enrolments. The change was a cynical exercise in disenfranchising people who were unlikely to vote for the Coalition. It was very, very dirty politics.

  14. shabadootwo

    Jeremy, you could just as easily say that the Left’s push to get people on the rolls after the election is called is a cynical ploy to get people who are more likely to vote Labor or Green onto the rolls.

    Blast Tyrant, much of what can broadly be called the Left aims at exactly that: imposing an artificial “fairness” on society through quotas, welfare, redistribution, and other assaults on liberty. The debate taking place in the UK over the Wilkinson/Pickett book “Spirit Level” is all about this.

  15. “Jeremy, you could just as easily say that the Left’s push to get people on the rolls after the election is called is a cynical ploy to get people who are more likely to vote Labor or Green onto the rolls.”

    The difference is that one’s about encouraging people to vote – ie, democratic – and one’s about trying to stop people voting – ie, undemocratic.

    They’re hardly moral equivalents.

    As for the rest – I think you’re confusing the left’s efforts for equality of opportunity with equality of outcome.

  16. Splatterbottom

    The object of electoral law should be to provide a reasonable mechanism to enable people to vote. Our current law has gone beyond this by requiring them to enroll and vote, and fining people who don’t do so.

    Despite these measures, it is no surprise that those who see themselves advantaged by the drongo vote are squealing about the injustice of the current quite reasonable enrollment procedures.

  17. That’s not reasonable at all. When people move house, fixing their electoral enrolment is hardly a first priority.

    It does not mean they should be locked out of voting.

    The object of electoral law is to make sure citizens vote. Period.

  18. shabadootwo

    “The object of electoral law should be to provide a reasonable mechanism to enable people to vote. Our current law has gone beyond this by requiring them to enroll and vote, and fining people who don’t do so.”

    So we have not only a reasonable mechanism for people to exercise their franchise, but we have backed it up with what you seem to admit is an extraordinary effort to get people out of their houses and to polling places on voting day. And yet some still cannot or will not. I’m not sure what more we’re supposed to do for them.

    “As for the rest – I think you’re confusing the left’s efforts for equality of opportunity with equality of outcome.”

    To take just the example of The Spirit Level cited above, this is a concerted effort to suggest that increased equality of outcome – not opportunity – is good for society. I think you’re dissembling here.

  19. “I’m not sure what more we’re supposed to do for them.”

    That’s a fairly silly thing to say, since we’re talking about one very specific proposal – restoring the system to what it was before Howard cynically screwed around with it: giving people a week after the election is called to fix up their enrolment.

    There’s no reason why the rolls should close at 8pm the day the writs are issued, unless the aim is to disenfranchise voters (as clearly was Howard’s aim).

  20. shabadootwo

    Also: “The object of electoral law is to make sure citizens vote. Period.”

    I think this is a very odd reading: Electoral law should be in place to ensure everyone who is eligible can exercise their franchise, that the vote is administered and counted in a fair and transparent way, and that there are appropriate penalties for electoral fraud.

  21. Alright, that “period” was a bit premature. Obviously the other factors are important objects, too.

  22. The object of electoral law is to make sure citizens vote. Period.

    Or at least to give them as much opportunity as possible to have the opportunity to vote.

    It should go without saying that ‘punishing’ people by denying them a vote is an apalling precedent bordering on fascism. Whilst I’m not surprised to see Shabs advocating for it I am a little taken aback to see SB espousing such a vile philosophy.

  23. Splatterbottom

    “Vile” is a bit strong, Mondo. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Anyone not enrolled can sort it out right now. Everyone knows an election is coming soon. This really isn’t a big issue.

  24. shabadootwo

    Who’s denying people a vote? The rules and procedures for getting on the rolls are pretty clear, I would have thought, and hardly onerous.

  25. “Who’s denying people a vote?”

    The people who want to prevent voters from a reasonable chance to update their enrolment once the election is called.

    “hardly onerous”

    Why should we require people to keep their enrolments up to date between elections? The critical point is when the election is called.

  26. shabadootwo

    Well then, why should we require people to vote at all?

  27. What? I don’t see how your question is a response to mine at all.

    We require citizens to vote so that our parliament represents the whole country, not just the politically active.

    In countries with voluntary voting, many millions don’t vote at all – and governments consequently ignore them. And when people do show up to vote, electoral commissions have to turn them away because they can’t predict how many will show up.

    Compulsory voting is far more democratic than voluntary voting.

  28. shabadootwo

    Jeremy, a constant refrain – a leitmotif, if you will – of this blog is that Australian governments at all levels are ignoring your concerns about various bien pensant issues such as gay marriage, ETS, and treatment of asylum seekers, despite claiming that your stands on these issues are robustly represented among the Australian electorate. This despite having compulsory voting: I would suggest that there’s a different problem at work.

    Anyway I’m not sure how forcing people to do anything is particularly democratic; it’s more the hallmark of authoritarian states. Far better to build an engaged and informed populace over time that wants to vote.

  29. “This despite having compulsory voting: I would suggest that there’s a different problem at work. “

    Indeed – it’s the single member electorate system that makes it almost impossible for anyone but the two big old parties to win a single lower house seat. We should have multi-member electorates so that if a party wins 10% of the primary vote, they get 10% of the lower house seats – not zero.

    The UK and US experiences indicate that adding voluntary voting to a two-party duopoly makes things even worse and less democratic.

    “I’m not sure how forcing people to do anything is particularly democratic; it’s more the hallmark of authoritarian states.”

    Yeah, authoritarian states are well known for forcing people to, in the privacy of a voting booth, choose between candidates for government.

  30. shabadootwo

    I should have caveated my comments above – it may be a problem for you, but not the rest of us. What you’re proposing is a recipe for chaotic and unstable coalitions like you see in countries such as Israel.

  31. Everyone knows an election is coming soon. This really isn’t a big issue.

    Sorry SB, but ensuring that as many people as possible have an opportunity to exercise their democratic right to cast their vote is a big issue.

    Your apparent hostility towards increased voter participation is ridiculous. The more eligible voters actually voting the better – and moderate measures like keeping the electoral roll open for a week after an election doesn’t even come close to justifying your “welfare state” hysteria above.

  32. Sorry – that should be “keeping the electoral roll open for a week after an election is called.”

  33. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, this is all namby pamby nonsense – how do the lefties screw a few more votes out of the system. I don’t think the cut-off date is unreasonable, but then again I have no particular objection to setting the date a week later, unless that places an unnecessary administrative burden. My cynicism is about the people beating this issue up in the hope of scraping together some votes from losers who couldn’t be bothered to register.

  34. “What you’re proposing is a recipe for chaotic and unstable coalitions like you see in countries such as Israel.”

    Ah, yes, the “if we have real democracy it will be like the most chaotic countries in the world” argument.

    There’s no reason why you couldn’t have a stable, civilised multi-party democracy where parties formed coalitions depending on the issues. That would, in fact, be democracy.

    The present system, where you big party voters vote for a mob who reckon they can represent fifty percent of the population, and then whinge when they do what other voters for that party want, is a farce. It’s why we end up with dodgy politicians who get away with it because “they’re not as bad as the other mob”. You vote against the parties you hate the most, rather than for a party that actually represents you.

    And decisions are made not in parliament through debate, but within party backrooms.

    And SB – demanding that the rolls not deliberately exclude voters is not “screwing a few more votes out of the system”.

  35. My cynicism is about the people beating this issue up in the hope of scraping together some votes from losers who couldn’t be bothered to register.

    And yet, strangely, you reserve no cynicism for the people who changed the system in the hope of excluding a few voters from their democratic right.

    Bottom line is that the more registered voters who vote the better for our democracy.

    You place yourself in very strange company by arguing for the disenfranchisement of eligible voters.

  36. returnedman

    Jeremy, you ARE aware that Antony Green is referred to by Greens members as “Antony Other”, due to his evident distate for that particular party and his subsequent unwillingness to even pronounce their name during election night coverage? He generally says Liberals X%, ALP Y% and “OTHER” Z%, rather than single out the Greens in spite of the fact that their percentage is often way ahead of the other small parties!

  37. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, if anything I was more cynical about Howard’s change to the rules, as this appeared also to be politically motivated, even though he announced the election a few days before the writs were issued.

    The thing is that the current rules are not particularly unfair, and it really is no big deal. I have little sympathy for the careless and disorganised voters who miss out, and absolute contempt for the bleating lefties who are trying to change the system for their own advantage more than anything else.

  38. confessions

    From that post at Green’s blog is a link to the AEC where you can check your enrollment online, which I did at lunch today out of boredom, only to find that my surname, firstnames, street, town and state returned no results for such a person enrolled to vote! Perplexed, I rang the AEC who told me my enrollment had been deleted (!!!!) because they’d sent me 3 letters which had all been returned.

    When I pointed out that I don’t actually get a mail service to my physical house, and have to maintain a PO Box for correspondence, the AEC woman was stupefied. Why hadn’t my postal address been used (it is recorded on the enrollment change form) when I moved home 3 years ago and advised the AEC accordingly? No idea she says. Meanwhile I have to re-enrol to vote, unaware that I was even off the electoral roll since the last Federal election!

  39. I have little sympathy for the careless and disorganised voters who miss out

    The alternative view is that even the careless and disorganised shouldbe able to vote, and systems should be in place to give them reasonable assistance to do so.

    The motivation of the politicians is completely irrelevant – the only worthwhile principle in evaluating rule changes is that all eligible voters should be assisted to vote wherever possible. Departure from that principle is nothing more than craven politicking.

    Which is, of course, what you’re doing here.

  40. confessions

    There is no logical argument against Labor’s electoral reform legislation. But that won’t stop people trying it on.

  41. baldrickjones

    Of course, we could make voting non-compulsory which would alleviate the penaties associated with not voting. But hey – why go for the simple option? If you want to vote, it is easy and trivial to organise yourself to do so. If you don’t particularly care and need sooo much extra time, you are a particularly disorganised individual. It took me 5 min to chase up and fill out my form. 2 min to get a new one and 3 min to fill it out and post it. If people don’t care then you can’t force them to.

  42. “Of course, we could make voting non-compulsory which would alleviate the penaties associated with not voting. “

    With the massive problems alluded to above.

    Much lower participation in elections.

    Inadequate provision of voting services so that people find themselves disenfranchised come election day.

    “If you don’t particularly care and need sooo much extra time, you are a particularly disorganised individual.”

    So what? You’re still entitled to, and should, vote.

  43. “the only worthwhile principle in evaluating rule changes is that all eligible voters should be assisted to vote wherever possible”

    Perhaps you would see things differently if you viewed everything through the prism of a lifelong obsessional hatred of lefties.

  44. lol. And snap.

  45. baldrickjones

    “Much lower participation in elections.

    Inadequate provision of voting services so that people find themselves disenfranchised come election day.”

    If people choose this willingly…who the fudge are you to day that they are wrong? If you can’t do a simple and easy task….why should anyone give a rats what you think? If I choose not to vote because I think all parties (Labor, Liberal, Green, independant – are fucked) why do I need to report to a official of the state?

  46. baldrickjones

    to say….obviously

  47. I don’t think people willingly chose to be denied the right to vote because some beaurocrat didn’t order enough ballot papers.

  48. Baldrick, we’re talking about locking people out of participation simply because keeping their details right on the roll between elections is not important to them – which I can understand, because it’s completely irrelevant. Why precisely does the AEC need to know where everyone is when there isn’t an election?

    People naturally rush to fix up their enrolments when an election is called. A week to do that – as it used to be – is reasonable. A few hours is not.

    There’s no reasonable excuse for locking these people out of voting – it’s shamelessly undemocratic.

  49. I’m a bit surprised to see so many here argue that they’re OK with people being denied a vote on the sole basis that those people are disorganised. It really ought to go without saying that it’s an arbitrary and extremely capricious reason to deny someone the opportunity to vote.

    What’s next – no voting rights for the overweight? Maybe some really thin voting booths that disenfranchise the fatties?

    I mean, if they can’t do a simple thing like eat properly why should anyone give a rats what they think?

  50. “People naturally rush to fix up their enrolments when an election is called. A week to do that – as it used to be – is reasonable. A few hours is not.”

    Exactly. There was no public policy reason for it to be changed away from the sensible call+week system, only a party-political one.

  51. Blast Tyrant

    I’m a bit surprised to see so many here argue that they’re OK with people being denied a vote on the sole basis that those people are disorganised.

    come on Mondo, don’t get disheartened.
    It’s not “so many people”, it’s like 3 people.
    And in the case of SB it’s clearly more that it’s a chance to try some more Left bashing then any particular belief one way of the other.
    I’m pretty sure it helps him ‘bash’ a certain part of his anatomy…

    But yeah, using “being disorganised” as a reason to deny people the vote is pretty shameless. It clearly isn’t always as simple as Baldrick might have found it.
    For people who have to work more than one job to survive, single parents, students from working class backgrounds who have to balance study and work (unlike Young Liberals) it’s easily something that can be put off again and again because of the other pressures of life.

  52. On the other hand, denying people like this bloke the chance to vote might not be such a bad thing ;o)

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/7582841/i-just-wanted-to-play-with-the-crocodile/

  53. Pingback: Why would the ALP choose to disenfranchise so many of its own voters? « An Onymous Lefty

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