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From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How…

From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia Got Compulsory…

by Judith Brett

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231707,792 (4.1)None
It's compulsory to vote in Australia.We are one of a handful of countries in the world that enforce this rule at election time, and the only English-speaking country that makes its citizens vote.Not only that, we embrace it. We celebrate compulsory voting with barbeques and cake stalls at polling stations, and election parties that spill over into Sunday morning.But how did this come to be? When and why did we begin making Australians vote? What effect has it had on our political parties, our voting systems, our participation in elections? And how else is the way we vote different from other English-speaking democracies?From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage is a brilliant essay-length book by the celebrated historian Judith Brett, the prize-winning biographer of Alfred Deakin. This is a landmark account of the character of Australian democracy.… (more)



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Much to my astonishment, I was singing the praises of this book the other day, when it transpired that my friend did not know what a democracy sausage was. So for the edification of those unfortunate citizens who do not enjoy the same privilege as we do here in Australia, an explanation is in order.

Because we are almost unique in the world in having compulsory voting, and because impecunious state schools are very often the place for polling booths all over the country, and because enterprising Parents and Friends associations can spot a good fundraiser when they see one, it has become routine practice for there to be a sausage sizzle so that voters can assuage their hunger pangs in a worthy cause. Indeed on election day there is a dedicated website where you can even scout around for the best democracy sausage options. They don't all offer fried onions or chilli sauce, you know, and some of them have a cake stall as well!

Here is the link to Wikipedia with pictures! Visit my blog to see the democracy sausage map: There are even democracy sausages overseas, the most famous of which is at Australia House in London. (See the video here).

But how has this come about? Indeed, how is it that we take compulsory voting so much for granted that it has taken Judith Brett's lively new history to make me aware of just how amazing it is that we are the only English-speaking country that makes its citizens vote?

Australians shake their heads in bemused dismay at the electoral shambles we've witnessed in the UK and US. Brexit just couldn't happen here. Here, at least when people vote and their side doesn't win, they can console ourselves with the knowledge that it's a democratic result. Compulsory voting means a referendum ignored by a huge cohort of voters but swamped by zealots would carry no weight at all and there could not be the same kind of divisive fallout that is tearing Britain apart because so many people are distraught at the result.

And because voting is compulsory here, the process has been made easy for us. Unlike the Brits, we only have to register to vote once which entitles us to vote in elections for all three levels of government, local, state and federal. The bureaucrats keep the electoral rolls up-to-date; we don't have to. Plus, whereas in Britain you need time off work on a Thursday to vote, we vote on Saturdays, which suits a majority of working people. Whereas in Britain you have to vote in your own electorate so too bad if you're away from home, we can vote wherever we are in the country, and outside of it, because we have absentee voting and postal voting. Yup, I'll be in New Zealand for our next election, but I won't miss out, because I can vote before I go!

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2019/03/16/from-secret-ballot-to-democracy-sausage-how-... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Mar 15, 2019 |
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