Australia's voting system is largely good, so all I would
suggest are some tweaks.
Age of Voting
I would lower the earliest voting age to 16. I would also
make voting between the ages of 16 to 22 non compulsory.
That should give one or two Federal elections where a young
person would have the choice of whether to vote or not - I
would use that opportunity to educate and encourage them to
I would also make voting over the age of 75 non-compulsory.
I am not trying to disenfranchise the elderly - far from it
- just giving them a choice. I would still urge them to
participate in the democratic process - if they want to.
While in person voting on polling day is a great
experience - democracy in action - it always seems to me to
be open to the potential of a devious person putting in
multiple votes. A person could roll up at multiple polling
booths in the electorate and get the chosen name of the
person they are impersonating marked off on the paper voting
roll. At present in Australia there is no check of their
identity, it is an honour system. A person can then vote -
at each polling booth they go to. Post election it can be
(and will be) found out that a person claiming to be the
person of the chosen name has voted multiple times but by
that time the votes are already in and can't be identified
to be retrieved and removed from the count. There would
probably be a police investigation but how are they going to
find the person that submitted the multiple votes?
It is a tribute to Australians and our political parties
that there is apparently (though I have not seen the figures
to confirm this) little voter fraud. However perhaps some
tweaking would still be worthwhile to make sure this remains
There should at least be an electronic voter roll to be
marked off - this is the 21st century after all! So that
would ping anytime it was detected that a voter was trying
to submit a vote under a name that has already been used for
voting for that election. The second and subsequent person
trying to vote under a name would have to prove that they
are who they say they are before their vote was accepted.
That is a partial solution, as if it is the first vote that
is fraudulent there would be no way of extracting that
fraudulent vote from the other submitted legitimate votes.
The next level is that everyone has to prove who they are
prior to voting. So driver's license or other identity card.
I know identity cards have been problematic in the past - so
this requirement should only be considered if it was
determined that there was a significant problem with voter
fraud in the future that needed to be fixed. That is not the
case at present.
An alternative is to go to a complete mail in system or a
system where the person completes the voting ballots at home
before mailing it in or dropping it off at a polling
place. The voting slip is put into an envelop which
does not identify the voter. This envelop is then put into a
second envelop, which has been preregistered to the voter,
signed by the voter and submitted. This allows all attempts
at multiple voting under a single voters name to be detected
before the vote is accepted into the count and those votes
set aside to be investigated to determine which is the
legitimate vote - probably by signature matching. The
legitimate vote (still contained in the unopened first
envelop) is then included in the count and the illegitimate
attempt sent to the police to investigate. It would slow
down the process of vote counting as there is this
additional step in the process so the result of the election
would not be known on election night.
I suggest the use electronic scanning and character
recognition software for paper votes to count the votes. It
is a mature technology that is used widely in other settings
and would speed the counting process while maintaining the
added security of having the original paper vote available
if a recount was necessary in a tight contest.
In the future there may be a secure way of remote electronic
voting (over the internet) so I wouldn't discount that
possibility. The trouble with electronic voting is that if
the votes or voting process is in some way compromised there
may be no opportunity for a recount as there is with paper
based voting. The possibility of something going wrong,
accidentally or maliciously, and the ability to recover from
that would need to be considered in any proposed set up of
Also see the suggested changes to
the voting system for the Senate from the Political
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