You don't have to vote
It is an error to say voting is compulsory. It is not; what is compulsory is to have one's name marked in the electoral roll. -- Eileen Bennett in 'The West Australian.' First Past the Post elections are undemocratic because a person could be elected although, say, 65% do not want him/her. -- R. Russell-Brown, Wanneroo. Anyone who has worked at polling stations would be well aware that compulsory voting is neither conducive to democracy nor does it produce results that are a fair representation of the will of the people. -- David Banner, Coolbellup.


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E. BENNETT, Georgist Education Association Inc., South Perth, Western Australia

AT EVERY election the same erroneous statement is made by the ABC and other media and official outlets. They all say that "voting is compulsory."
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Voting is not compulsory. It never has been.

What is compulsory is to attend a polling booth (or arrange by post) to have one's name struck off the roll and receive a ballot paper. What is written on the ballot paper is the elector's choice.

On every occasion in the last 42 years on which I have not been offered a candidate to represent my interests rather than his or her party's, I have stated to the electoral officer an intention to invalidate my vote.

The right to do this has never been challenged. A colleague has gone further and proved this right in court.

Section 184 of the WA Electoral Act 1907 states: To mislead, deceive or unduly influence any elector in relation to the casting of their votes is an offence," and "undue influence includes every interference with the free exercise of the franchise of any voter." This includes your right not to vote.

This is most important if you sincerely believe that in voting you will sanction the wrongdoing and harmful policies of those elected.

E. BENNETT, Georgist Education Assoc, South Perth

It's undemocratic

R. RUSSELL-BROWN, ..Wanneroo, Western Australia

IT'S AMAZING that, in a country that leads the world in mathematics, M. Abbott (Letters, 21/11) can advocate "first past the post" voting.

Surely this is one of the most undemocratic voting systems in the world? Work it out. With only three candidates, one of them could be elected with only 35 per cent of the vote, assuming that the other two share the remaining 65 per cent so that neither of them exceeds 35 per cent.

This means that the electors are stuck with a member who 65 per cent of them don't want. Under the preferential system, if no candidate obtains a majority in the first count, then the system leads to a "first past the post" result, with the added benefit of allowing minor parties to contest the seat.

These minor parties serve a valuable role in sending major parties the message that they are getting only qualified support.

By the way, Australia does not have compulsory voting. We have only compulsory attendance at a polling station.


The W.A. State elections, for both Lower and Upper Houses, were held on Saturday, 14 December 1996, and more candidates outside the major three parties were elected. The Liberal-National Government of Richard Court and Hendy Cowan was re-elected.

Compulsory voting is the easy way out

DAVID BANNER, ..Coolbellup

I AGREE with Brian Jenkins (Letters, 1/7) that the ALP and its appendage, the Australian Democrats, are once again trying to prop up the outdated notion that compulsory voting is in some way democratic when the whole world knows it is just the opposite.

Anyone who has worked at polling stations would be well aware that compulsory voting is neither conducive to democracy nor does it produce results that are a fair representation of the will of the people.

There are many in our society who although being good citzens in every way, are neither interested in nor informed about politics.

It is wrong to make such people feel that they must make decisions they are not prepared for, or equipped to make.

The quirk of irony is that if there was no compulsion for them to attend polling stations then they would be much better informed, simply because politicians and their cohorts would be making sure that they were informed to get them there.

The motivation of the ALP and the Democrats in wanting to keep Australia as one of the last places on earth where compulory voting is retained is easy to work out (no conforming to world conventions here).

The main reason is they don't want to have to make the effort to get people out to vote, though they are paid by the taxpayer for every vote cast.   It is easier if they have laws to force them.

Also, the ALP is fearful that the uninterested will be lulled away from voting by the footy, the cricket, painting the fence or the pub.

The Democrats, depending as they do on disenchantment with major parties to gain votes, are fearful that those so disenchanted will respond by not voting at all.

Both reasons are totally self-serving and have nothing to do with concerns about fair, or democratic, elections.

D. BANNER, Coolbellup

If you have facts or opinions on these aspects, you could e-mail The West Australian on
12 -- THE AUSTRALIAN Tuesday October 13 1998 -- 12

The fairest way to elect our MPs

W. H. PITT..Nunawading, Vic

A POX on the McNicoll article that advocates electoral reform (sic) of a type that would return Australia to government by absolute minorities -- as it was last century.

   Why not also return to voting by landholders only -- as in the landlordistic slavery days of ancient Athens?    Our need is to move electorally forward through using quota preferential counting (as in the Senate) for the ballots in the Lower House and the State parliaments.

   This would let our parliamentarians be decently influenced by the good in the policies of One Nation but not controlled by the silliness.   I plead for policies that would make us a grand nation.

Nunawading, Vic

If you have facts or opinions on these aspects, you could e-mail The Australian on or for a quick short e-mail use Firstbyte at
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In the Metropolitan Area alone in the 1996 State election there were about 20 Independents standing for the Lower House, and 5 for the Upper House.

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