Vote early and vote often: just joking, sort of

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Liberal candidate for Liverpool Mazhar Hadid at pre poll voting helping a voter understand how it all works.

When at election time Aussies say, “vote early and vote often’’, it’s only partly a joke. And that’s just one of the many things in our voting system which need changing. Our Top 5 looks at the five things we’d like to change about voting and elections:

Number 1: Americans are looking into swapping their voluntary system of voting with our compulsory one. Yanks, always behind in the great game of catch up: what we’d love to have is their voluntary system. Not only is it more democratic but it would whip our politicians into shape as they would have to work twice as hard, once to get us to vote and again to get us to vote for them. They’d still be on the bludge but with a 10 percent productivity increase!

 Number 2: Electronic voting, but in a world first, do it from home. How hard can it be in this day and age to get up on the weekend, enjoy breakfast, grab a cup of coffee, crank the computer up, go to the Electoral Commission website and cast your vote. The computer ticks you off automatically, so you cannot vote more than once. Downside is that you don’t get to say hello to the neighbours you haven’t see for three years when you get to the polling booth to vote the old fashioned way and they greet you with those old fashioned, one metre long how to vote leaflets.

 Number 3: Preferential voting. What the hell is it? And if you move to Tasmania there’s something called the hare-clarke or hare-tortoise system. I’ve been covering elections for almost 40 years and I am still not sure how the optional/compulsory preferential system works. All I know is that in one the voter decides his or her preferences, and in the other one the party that got their vote does. Clear as mud, so time for a simple system, first past the post, the candidate with the most primary votes wins. It will also stop boofheads from getting elected, especially in upper houses like the senate, with a handful of votes and a zillion preferences. Apparently, believe it or not, they do it with the help of a “preference whisperer’’. Spare me.

 Number 4:  Put a limit on how long they can stay in parliament. Eight years sounds about right. There is no way any human being can have the same hunger in the ninth year they had in the first. It’s called a bloody comfort zone people, so they spend the rest of their days just trying to get re-elected. Keep the fresh blood coming in, I say.

Number 5: Why don’t we have a break every 20 years or so, and just let the army run things for four or five years. Even democracy, surely, needs a holiday now and again to refresh the batteries. It’s radical, I know, but you’d be surprised how many people would get behind it.

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