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Compulsory voting

January 16, 2009

I just took at look at the Citizen’s briefing book on Change.gov, which is well worth a look.  Check it out.

But, of course, because I’m hopelessly parochial, it make me wonder why the Australian govenment doesn’t do anything like that?  I swear, I think sometimes they actively discourage engagement with the political process.

My current half-baked theory is that compulsory voting is actually a way to disenfranchise voters and discourage passionate support.  You know how sometimes when you have to do something, you resent it, even if it’s something you would have done otherwise?  Like, before I worked at Swans, I took great pleasure in spending every second weekend at the football.  Once I worked there, I deeply resented the loss of my weekends.  I think compulsory voting has a similar effect.  Naturally, some people still are very actively political, but I think there’s little effort to encourage that kind of engagement- it’s more just tolerated.

Like factory farming, I think the Australian political system survives in tact because it happens behind closed doors.  Compulsory voting, our lack of campagin finance laws, our system which allows parties like Family First to hold too much power: all this things are very disconcerting.  But what is worse is that so many intelligent, educated people I know just don’t care.  The apathy is scary.

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