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.