We’ve had elections here in the Australian Capital Territory with an astonishing result: four seats have been gained by the Green Party. This has never been seen before here. With Labor having 6 seats and the Liberals 7, it looks like we will have a coalition government. Which party will be chosen by the Greens as its new best friends?
I am a strong supporter of people using their right to vote, whether it’s federal or state elections, committee elections in a cat club, or electing a church council. I have told people in the past that if they didn’t vote in an election, they don’t really have a right to complain about the result.
Now, that’s my Australian perspective. I know that there are other countries where voting is not compulsory, but you can bet that if I were a citizen there, I’d be enrolled to vote anyway and turning up to the polling stations early. 🙂
This article originally from the Washington Post describes how US political scientists Alan Gerber, Donald Green and Christopher Larimer looked at how efficient ways might be to get people to vote. No, they didn’t bribe people with hamburgers, coffee or booze. They didn’t send people money and they didn’t hire a bus on polling day.
The control group had a slightly less than 30% turnout on election day. (OK, that already boggles my mind. I honestly thought there would have been more people going out to vote.)
The first studied group who got a letter 11 days before the poll telling them that it was their civic duty to vote had a 6% better turnout than the control group.
The second group who got a letter telling them that they were being studied had a 12% higher turnout than the control group.
A third group got a letter pointing out that whether or not someone votes is a matter of public record (who they actually vote for is a private matter, obviously), and the letter added who had voted in the 2004 election in their household. They had a 16% better turnout than the control.
The fourth group got a letter like the third group, but added which of their neighbours had voted. It also said that after the coming election, the entire neighbourhood would receive another mailing that laid out – household by household – who had voted. That group had a boosted turnout of 27%!
In an age where millions of dollars are spent on campaigns, the bottom line should surely be that people vote in the first place, rather than relying on someone else’s vote to cover their wishes. It is a right that was fought for, a precious right that cannot and should not be taken lightly.
OK, getting off my soapbox for democracy now. Have a happy Halloween!