In general, I try not to use the phrase “do your research” very often, because most of us aren’t equipped with laboratories, test subjects, degrees and the other necessities to perform actual research. Even pointing people towards existing research can be hit-and-miss because not everyone will correctly interpret it. That goes for a lot of information we have. For example, there are still people out there that believe female violence against men is an equivalent problem to male violence against women, despite statistics showing otherwise. Quite a few people still believe that vaccines cause autism despite many studies showing otherwise. There are plenty of us out there who think Australia has achieved gender equality, though research shows this isn’t the case. There are even groups of people who are pretty sure the earth is flat and some that believe the planet is only 6,000-10,000 years old. I could go on but really, all I’m saying is that presenting facts often isn’t enough. Some people aren’t interested in facts that don’t support what they want to believe.
I’m hoping that those people are a minority. We have an election coming and we all really need to do our research when deciding how to cast our votes.
In the wake of Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, Google has shown that Britons were frantically searching for information on what the E.U. actually is- hours after voting to leave it. In fact, there are calls to hold the referendum again because so many people have realised they may have voted the wrong way. This is not the first time in the history of the world that people have voted for something (or someone) without fully understanding the ramifications of what they are doing. It won’t be the last time either; Americans are still supporting Donald Trump, aren’t they?
The Australian Election is Coming.
It’s next weekend. When I say to you that you need to do your research on this one, I’m not kidding. I’m pleading. This is a big deal. Your vote is your one say in how the country is run. It’s up to you to use it wisely and understand what you are doing. When Australia voted in Tony Abbott and the LNP, it seemed to be entirely on the premise of “stopping the boats” and a continued campaign of denigrating the achievements of the previous government; things like complaining about the state of the economy while the rest of the world praised and awarded former Treasurer, Wayne Swan, for the excellent job he’d done. This election, we as a country need to try a bit harder. We can’t afford to be apathetic voters.
The way we vote in the Senate has changed a bit. You now have to number your preferences from 1-6 above the line or 1-12 below the line. If your first preference is not elected, the full value of your vote passes to your second preference and so on. Is what I’m saying making no sense to you? Then this is where your research begins. This changed a couple of months ago, in March. You can read about it in detail here and watch a video on it here.
“Donkey voting” is the practice of numbering the boxes on the ballot from top to bottom (or bottom to top) and lots of people seem to think this counts as an “informal” vote- meaning it isn’t counted. This isn’t the case. If you number the boxes in the order they appear- that is how you’ve voted. If you number the last box as with a 1 and work your way back- that is how your vote will be recorded. The electoral commission has no way of knowing whether or not you meant it this way, so they do count donkey votes. It’s no way to register your protest or send a message- because no one will receive it.
“Informal” voting is when you don’t number any boxes or when you write something that identifies you, among other things. This type of vote is the kind that doesn’t count at all and means you’re throwing you chance to have a say in the bin.
Do Your Research.
It’s important that we vote for the party that best represents us and what we want for our country. This is also why it’s important that we don’t believe they myth that voting for a minor party is a waste. Lee Rhiannon, of the Greens, addressed this myth really well here. Polls are showing a big swing towards minor parties, with apparently more than 20% of us intending to vote for a minority party. This is the current register of political parties. How many of them are you familiar with? How many sound like a good bet?
Voting is your one chance to have a say in how your state and country are run, so take the time to understand it and get it right. Australians have always been considered a pretty laid-back bunch but this is something we need to take seriously because the result of the election effects every single one of us. If you’re a shift worker, for example, do you want to carelessly vote for the party that wants to get rid of your penalty rates? Or maybe you care about dropping immunisation rates and the return of preventable diseases, so voting for a party focused on health seems entirely sensible. However, you may inadvertently give your support to a party that has a representative who is a self-described expert on “homeopathic vaccination”, something we know to be ineffective and therefore dangerous. Maybe you are environmentally conscious, so a party with the word “sustainable” sounds pretty good to you but did you know that, by “sustainable”, they actually mean significantly lowering immigration rates? Perhaps you’ve heard of the Australian Sex Party and think they sure aren’t going to represent your interests- but have you actually looked at their policies?
If you don’t want to read up on every single option, try the ABC vote compass. It’s a useful tool in seeing where the things that matter to you rank with political parties and can help you decide how to vote.
I Can’t Tell You Who to Vote For.
I mean, I can, but that seems unlikely to work, so I won’t. All I can tell you is what I want for Australia. I want a country to be proud of. Not one that prides itself on not helping those in need. Not one that goes out of it’s way to make sure some people don’t have the same rights as others. Not one that is all talk and little action on the issues that matter to me, like violence against women. I want a country that is run by a humanitarian government who spends less time hand-wringing and blustering and more on making things better for everyone in a multitude of ways, from better internet to affordable housing and health care. One that gives a shit about the environment, cares about the great Australian tradition of giving everyone a fair go and isn’t going to pander to racists or homophobes. Is that too much to ask?
So, shout it from the rooftops, gang. Share this thing you’ve just read, have conversations, ask people to vote based on what they want for Australia rather than letting apathy rule them. There’s only a few days left!
#IBOT @ Essentially Jess.