Democracy in Action

The Get Up signs were pretty funny.

I kind of love the experience of voting. Yes, it’s gut-wrenching when your candidate/party of choice doesn’t get in… but I still love it.

Yes, I’m one of those people who would still vote, without fail, if voting were not compulsory in this country. Voting is important. As a woman, I’m conscious of all those people who worked so hard to make sure that my gender was allowed to vote. As a human being, I’m conscious of all those people who worked so hard to make sure that anyone was allowed to vote.

I love doing my research beforehand, and organising my preferences. I love that I get to vote below the line, filling in all those boxes (110 this time!) so as to put the people I consider most vile right down the bottom. I love chit-chatting with the poll staff, stuck indoors on a beautiful spring day like this one. I love overhearing conversations while I queue, even when I think someone else’s politics are appalling. I guess I just kind of love knowing that at least we live in a country where we get to have those opinions, right or wrong. We may end up with a government that I can’t stand, and it may make me despair of people in this country… but it’ll be the one we, as a country, elected. And that’s still worth something.

I love the sausage sizzles, the cake stalls and the jumble sales. I always look through the books, even though I don’t buy physical books anymore, and don’t really want more in my house. I bought three little wooden sailing ships today, even though I don’t really want to add more dust catchers to the house. It was nice.

Despite everything, the mood was positive. People weren’t complaining about having to queue. The poll workers were great at bringing the elderly and parents with young children to the front of the queue so that they didn’t have to wait as long. The people handing out leaflets out front weren’t too pushy.

I know there will be things I get worked up about, later today. It seems pretty likely that the result is not the one I would choose. But right now… I feel positive about democracy.

And that’s a good thing.

I’ve heard a lot of people mocking our electoral system, lately, especially people from overseas who don’t seem to grasp our preferential voting system. I’m well aware that there are things in the system that don’t work as well as they should… but I still think it’s a better system than many of them out there. In Australia, voting for a non-major party is not a wasted vote. I can put whoever I want as number one on my ballot, and if they don’t get enough votes? My vote moves on to my second choice, all the way down the line.

This is so important. It means I don’t have to sacrifice my integrity to vote for the party I think is least worst that has a chance at winning. It gives our government an opportunity for diversity. The Greens (who I do vote for) will almost certainly never win government – and without preferential voting, they’d likely never win so much as a single seat. But with preferences, they stand a chance, and that gives them a voice.

And in a way, it gives me a voice.