In two days, Australia will head to the polling booths and cast our votes in our federal election. With the results expected to be tight, being informed before voting is more important than ever.
While the number of young people enrolled to vote did increase before this election, there are still a concerning number of us not enrolled, or enrolled but completely disengaged. Voting can be a confusing concept, but taking the time to familiarise yourself with a few key elements can ensure your vote counts.
No idea where your vote should go?
Australia is incredibly lucky in that we have a whole range of fantastic resources available to us, should we be confused. I would recommend using these as a starting point (they only display 3-5 major parties), then researching and going from there to find the perfect party for you:
- ISideWith (ensure you click ‘more options’ for each question, and answer all questions in each category as some are hidden under a ‘show more’ tab!)
- Your Vote
There are more than just two parties.
It’s so common to hear people say ‘but I don’t like Labor OR Liberal!’/‘I’m just voting for the lesser of two evils.’
Hate to break it to you pal, but there are many, many more parties you can vote for. There are 38 of them on the Victorian Senate ballot paper. Plus independents. You have plenty of choice. Think about what issues matter to you, and find a party that aligns with those values.
Increasing the number of minor parties and independents within the Senate also means more independent ideas being put forward into parliament. Lowering the number of Liberal and Labor held seats within the Senate allows us to shift the balance of power from these parties. Things will still ‘get done’; more parties will just have an input.
This election is also a double dissolution. Both the House of Reps and Senate have been ‘dissolved’, meaning every seat is being contested, and you’ve more chance to get your preferred party over the line.
A party’s name doesn’t always reflect their true agenda
Health Australia Party believe children shouldn’t have to be vaccinated before attending school, Family First are a strong Christian group who oppose marriage equality, and Rise Up Australia are completely against asylum seekers, especially those who follow an Islamic faith. A party’s policies are not always reflected within their moniker, giving you even more reason to ensure you’re educated before voting.
Below the line voting has changed
Voting ‘below the line’ ensures your votes are directed toward your preferred candidate, rather than simply toward a party when voting ‘above the line’ (which, in turn, can get lost in preference deals and go toward a party you may not support). Previously, to vote below the line you had to number all 70+ boxes, however this year you need only number at least 12. I would strongly encourage everyone to take the time and vote below, to ensure your votes go where you want them. You can fill in 12, 50, or all 117 if you’re a real election enthusiast.
YOUR VOTE COUNTS. IT ALWAYS COUNTS.
The most horrible thing to hear is people say ‘what’s the point in me voting? It won’t count anyway.’ If the UK’s recent referendum has taught us anything, it is that EVERY.SINGLE.VOTE.COUNTS. SO many people have come forward saying ‘I voted leave but I didn’t really want to, I just didn’t think my vote would count.’ If you go into the booths, you correctly fill in your papers and you place them in that box – your vote counts.
The AEC has some great resources to ensure you vote correctly:
While it may be a lot of information to take in, ensuring you understand the basics before voting is so incredibly important. Reflecting on your own personal ideologies and voting accordingly means we can be a truly democratic society, and have our government really reflect on the wants and needs of its people.
Living in Australia really is an incredible thing. So many people around the world aren’t as lucky as us, so please, please never take the opportunity to vote for granted. It means more to so many people than you know.
Go in on Saturday prepared, and make it count.