We should be grateful that voting is compulsory

When I was 21, I got fined $75 for failing to vote in my local council elections.

My flatmate at the time got the same fine; she ignored it, or forgot to pay it, and it swiftly doubled to $150.

At the time, we were so annoyed. How dare the government force us to vote?! The only reason we didn’t vote was because we had no idea about it – we were typically self-involved 20-somethings and local elections were about as interesting to us as spending an evening with distant relatives watching slides.


Oh, how times change.

I’ve been following, with interest, the state of politics in America. Their mid-term elections are just weeks away and the world is collectively holding its breath… waiting to see whether Donald’s Trump “leadership” will galvanise even more Republican support, or prompt an uplift in Democratic voters?

What I’ve discovered in the last few days is that even if you want to vote in America, the system they have over there can make it very difficult to do so.

In Australia, voting is compulsory and if you don’t rock up on ballot day, you get fined.

In America, voting is not compulsory, and you have to actually register to vote beforehand – sometimes, the cut off is weeks and weeks before voting day!

This system is ripe for corruption, which is allegedly what is going down in Florida.

“We’ve now heard from several people that Florida’s online voter registration site is NOT letting people register to vote,” tweeted Data Scientist & Policy Analyst Samuel Sinyangwe.

“Months ago, we found a similar error on the site and got the state to (at least temporarily) fix it. That was right before the deadline to register for the primary. And now it’s preventing people from registering to vote in the general election.

“Meanwhile, we’ve sent more than 13,000 young people to register to vote on the site this past week. Literally thousands of young people will be prevented from being able to register to vote if the site remains down and they do not extend the registration deadline!”

The problem was apparently fixed, until it wasn’t.

I wonder why the government in power would want to prevent young people from voting?!

Suddenly, I’m grateful that voting in Australia is compulsory.