02 July 2016

Election 2016: Australia Decides


You have to wonder what system these election people use at home to keep track of things. The endless to-do lists written on a pad of paper must abound in their houses, if they can find them right next to the FAX machine and piles of carbon paper. I was astounded again this morning when I went to vote in my local polling station. Outside each venue were individuals representing each of the major parties and several lesser ones. They hand out pieces of paper to convince us to vote for their candidate. As if I'm going to read anything at the last minute. As if my reading that single sheet of information will sway my thinking.

Then I entered the building, after standing in the queue. A man with a yellow vest functioned as the concierge to the ballot issuing table, although he seemed more interested in chatting with everyone than getting us to the right table in a timely fashion. A woman sat with a book the size of a telephone book in front of her. That book contained the register of residents in our suburb. My wife and I sat in front of her and told her our names. We could have used any names. The woman sought no identification from us. She verified our address. She asked us "Have you voted already today?" We said, "No." She crossed off our names. With a pen. Maybe it was precise. And she tore off two sheets for each of us, each from a separate pad. The green ballot contained 8 names and we were instructed to label our preferences from one to 6 or one to 8; who can remember? In the past you had to number only one box above the line to vote for the party of your choice. Now you have to number at least six boxes.

We voted only once today. We could have gone into any of three polling locations within a few hundred metres, and used any of our neighbours' names and voted again and again. We could have gone to dozens of polling places throughout our suburb and a couple others. The system is archaic and paper-filled. What if someone had found out that I actually voted three or ten times? Would they have tossed all the ballots registered and duly processed all day at each of those locations? Our name is not on the ballot. The system is fraught with the danger of corruption. In Chicago the old line "Vote early, vote often" would certainly be applicable. Nothing would prevent this. Oh wait, maybe a computer might help. They have those in some suburbs in Australia, I've heard.

The whole system was explained the other day by Adam Gartrell here in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The white paper was the NSW ballot with about 150 candidates and was about a metre long. A metre. The booth where we were sent to fill out those two paper ballots measured significantly less.
Who thought this one up?
And we were told to vote for 12 people or 6 parties or 9 upper names and ...oh who can remember? 150 candidates. Luckily I had a pile of handouts to help me choose based on a photo and a short list of why the other guys are so bad.

If you were in the Victorian electorate of Higgins, you got shafted. See the ABC report here as the wrong ballots were distributed early this morning. People there were told to vote for the South Australian people, even though they lived in Victoria. Good luck sorting that out. Oh, if only there was a computer down in Higgins. You know, you can actually choose filters on a computer so that selections and de-selections are easy to count and to create. If only.

Come on, pollies. Let's get up to the 20th century. Maybe you could use the computers that used to work in schools, that have been retrenched and replaced with updated models. Bring them to polling stations next year. Stop the obvious chance for corruption. Stop the long queues. Stop growing the length of our ballots. Please. Thank you.

1 comment:

Graeme Smith said...

A computerised system can also be manipulated, and I imagine they would be stupid enough to put it on the Internet which could allow foreign government hacking.
There would need to be a foolproof identification system.

I just had a great idea.
I know we could chip everybody with a unique identifier, which you could present at the polling booth plus you could use it for other things as well.