We had just received envelopes containing information about the local election. Not just simple reminders, but the actual voting cards, which we could fill out and send back in an enclosed envelope. Absolutely perfect, not having to meet up at an over-crowded hall smelling of sweaty old men.
“Hey, hunny — we’ve received our local voting cards in the mail,” I told to the missus. She looked at me funny, “but we’re not Dutch citizens, we can’t vote.” I then explained to her that in most European countries you only have to be a resident to be allowed to vote.
That was in 2008.
After we moved to Australia in 2009 I’ve lost that freedom. The missus is an Australian citizen, so she don’t have to worry about that, but I’m only an Australian resident. To be allowed to vote in Australia, one of the criteria are that you are a citizen. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been here or that you pay taxes, you have to be an Australian citizen.
You can of course contact your local representative in the are you live, but that doesn’t guarantee you will be heard. But being able to vote, gives you one guaranteed say about who you want to run Australia.
If you are allowed to vote, given you’re a registered voter, you are forced to vote. Meaning, you will be fined if you do not excercise your “right” to vote.
In countries like Norway, The Netherlands and the USA, you are not forced to vote. You have a right to vote, but you also have the right to decide if you want to take advantage of that right. It is, as most democratic and freedom loving countries sees it, part of the democratic freedom, that you decide if you want to vote or not. However, exercising that right is very important. If you are unhappy with who is running the country or you are happy with your country’s leader, the best way to express that is by voting.
By not voting, you are silent while others speak for you. Is that what you want?
Forcing your citizens to vote, as I see it, has little or nothing to do with freedom or democracy. As some Australians have pointed out to me, statistically it looks very good to force citizens to vote. Although, as I’ve tried to point out to them, it doesn’t guarantee an accurate vote, just a nice statistic.
A too common argument here, in Australia, is to point at USA and say, “they are not forced to vote, this is shown in the few numbers of citizens who turn up to vote.”
That is a good point. Maybe if more people were forced in the USA to vote the country would have better politicians. Or would it? And what about their freedom to choose to vote?
Recently there were local elections in Norway and apparently there were more than usual who decided not to vote. A lot of political parties blamed them for their loss in the elections. However, my friend had a different view than blaming those who didn’t vote. He blamed the politicians for not being interesting enough. He said that, “it’s the politicians job to make you want to get out of your chair and vote.”
Maybe that is the issue in Australia and USA. Australian politicians are so hopeless that they have to force their citizens to vote, or else no-one would turn up. While the US politicians are not interesting at all, so most people couldn’t give a shit and decides not to vote at all. Maybe it’s time Australian and US politicians starts to truly work for their money and make people vote, not because they feel forced, but because they want to make a change — a change that will happen, not just promised.
The economy in the US, when writing this, things doesn’t look so good. While Australia might not suffer from yet another world economic crisis, I prefer the US over Australia in regards to voting. Because if a country promises me freedom, I want to have freedom. Telling me I have the freedom to vote on any party I want, but as long as a vote, is not freedom in my eyes.
Voting on any party without having to fear prosecution and being allowed to decide if you want to vote or not, that is freedom. I want to vote because I can and want to, not because I’m told to do it.