(Musings below are Australian-orientated and somewhat depoliticised for accessibility. A more political post will probably follow at some point. 🙂 )
So, it’s on.
Yesterday Prime Minister Turnbull announced that the election would be held on July 2nd, confirming what we’ve suspected for months. The political brouhaha can wait for a moment, though. The question everyone in Australia needs to ask is: am I enrolled to vote? Check if you’re enrolled, because if you’re not, you only have until MAY 23RD to do so before the rolls are shut for the election! Get onto it, now.
I realised recently that my voting experience will be different this time around – due to circumstances, I’ll probably have to either postal vote or pre-vote (more info about ways to vote here). I’ll be sorting that out in a few weeks, I suppose – after all, I wouldn’t want to miss out. It’s one of our democratic rights and it’s important. I believe that if you’re eligible to vote but you don’t, then you don’t have much of a leg to stand on or voice to complain. Especially in a system like Australia’s, where voting is compulsory so everyone is supposed to vote.
I admit, it can be frustrating at times, to choose who to vote for. There are quite a few options, with new Senate voting rules, as well as certain parties being very similar in certain aspects but different in others! What to do?
My solution is to stay informed. Choose one or two appropriate media forms – print, TV, social, radio, etc. – and keep in touch with what’s going on. Use your common sense when doing this – certain media organisations are more sensationalist and misinformed than others (that’s why having two or more sources is a good thing).
The second or even first step is to decide which issues are your make-or-break issues this election – and how much leeway are you prepared to give the parties about them?
Climate change/ the environment? A good economy? Humane treatment of asylum seekers? Marriage equality and support for anti-discrimination initiatives? Proper education funding? Proper hospital funding? Indigenous issues? Funding for tackling domestic abuse & other such concerns? Etc.
Have a look at what the parties say on these issues and whether (or not!) their opinions match up more-or-less with yours. Then decide whether you can “forgive” a major difference of opinion between you and a party if you share (i.e. agree with) the party’s opinions on other issues.
That last bit is important, because it is, I believe, what’s causing some of the present dissatisfaction with certain political parties. People are looking at what’s on offer and saying, “No thanks!” then looking to other parties.
In a broader context, it’s also what leads to decisions about preferences. If, say, there are two parties which are broadly similar on a number of issues but disagree strongly on other, particular, ones, then you might think about putting them close together, but preferencing one just above the other, in accordance with your principles.
Of course, the other thing that influences this is the people – the candidates. After all, we’re voting for someone to represent our community in Federal politics. The sticking point is that most are representatives of their party, too. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t! Especially when the candidate is the “incumbent” – they’re defending a position they won last time (and sometimes several last times). Apply the same information-gathering tactics as above.
Then, on voting day, follow your conscience, putting all of that together. Ignore the opinion polls in the media leading up to the day and be careful of sensationalist reporting. There are sites for ordering preferences beforehand. Keep an eye out so you can go in with a clear mind. In the end, it’s your choices. That’s all there is to it.
So, are you enrolled?