There is no denying that the practice of allowing the distribution of How-to-Vote Cards on election days favours and advantages the major political parties. Insofar, this practice shores up the wicked two-party “Washminster” system and disadvantages minority political parties, markedly.
This practice is also most anti-democratic. Voters should be able to look forward to going out and casting their votes on election days, unimpeded, instead of having to run through the gauntlet to get into the polling stations in the first place.
Furthermore, this practice is extremely unenvironmental. One only has to imagine how many trees must be chopped down to facilitate the millions of hand-out flyers distributed by campaign workers on election days. It’s fair enough that the parties with the big backings and resources should be able to advertise reasonably extensively – although the day may be rapidly approaching when an upper limit needs to be instituted to restrict campaign spending and the mass bribery of voters.
This practice is antithetical to the concept of “thinking voting”, to be sure. Not to mention how it fosters both informal voting and a percentage of “donkey” voting.
The practice, every which way, consumes a lot of individuals’ time (those handing out the flyers in question). Time which could be better spent doing something more useful in most cases.
In Tasmania, it is illegal to hand out How-to-Vote material on State election days and it is, as it is in New Zealand, a pleasant experience to responsibly go about one’s voting duties – or so the writer is told.
It would be difficult to put a figure on it but, perhaps, one of the reasons it is hard to get referenda carried in this country is because at the final hurdle there is someone or other handing out a “how to vote NO” card. In reverse, the same story applies when it comes to the lion’s share of #1 primary votes which are captured by the major parties.
The AEC should be responsible for placing the properly authorised How-to-Vote Cards of all registered political parties and their candidates up in the official Polling Places. An extension of this process would be all registered parties being allocated two A4 sized pages of space to publish their policies in an AEC-printed booklet which could be delivered by strictly licensed contractors to the letter boxes of all voters.
This proposition is categorically good policy!
Peter Consandine © 2005 and © 2012