WIND gusts knocking over A-frames and corflutes, kidneys aching from standing on cold concrete… yes, it’s pre-polling days again.
Isn’t it about time we stopped – or restricted – this ridiculous rite?
Pre-polling for the 2019 Federal election is three weeks. Very convenient for the hundreds of thousands who have taken advantage and lucrative for the paid voting booth workers.
Not so for the volunteers standing around outside distributing how-to-vote (HTV) tickets.
Why not erect large HTV signs for each party or independent, position provided by lot, upon the walls inside each polling booth and simultaneously introduce the 100-metre rule banning outside canvassing which works well in the ACT Legislative Assembly elections?
This would ensure pre-polling – currently under criticism for its length – could stay at three weeks and remove the challenge of finding volunteers, especially among independents, to carry out HTV distribution.
Would the need to avoid HTV paper and helpers encourage more people to stand for election? Perhaps, but this could be controlled by increasing costs or number of people in support of nomination.
Undemocratic? No more than the existing situation which denies some candidates any volunteer help due to a lack of financial or other resources.
A considerable amount of paper would be saved and volunteer retirees and university students spared the boredom, physical discomfort and the occasional insult.
Of course, the system should be applied to Federal polling day itself.
Politicians, naturally conservative where their own interests are concerned, would be reluctant, however the Australian Electoral Commission could show some initiative.
Nevertheless this should be an interim measure. The sensible move would be to electronic voting, but as an electoral official explained to me, this would be “too difficult”.
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