With 3 days to a federal Australian election, many voters appear to be fed up with politics and don’t know whether to vote in Julia or Tony. It seems to me that many people have one or two core issues that sway them one way or the other.
I recommend a couple of tools that helped me situate my own views with the views of our political parties. My method takes a more holistic view using a self-assessment of one’s own political beliefs and comparing those to the political parties on offer.
I recommend spending 10 minutes completing the political compass test. This test goes beyond the left-right economic continuum by also including an authoritarian vs libertarian social continuum. You end up positioning your views on the following quadrant:
Once you have done the test, how do your results compare with the Australian political parties? Have you noticed how closer Labor and Liberal actually are in their views of how things should work? Read more here.
The Liberal Democratic Party has their own version of this test, which includes some of the other minor parties on the political compass.
Becoming an educated voter
Now you have a better idea of which party represents your views best, get educated about how to make your vote count.
There are so many myths about Australia’s preferential voting system. One big myth is that a vote for the Greens is a vote for Labor. Or that voting for any minor party is a ‘wasted’ vote.
It is actually very easy for Liberal leaning voters to vote Green-Liberal. Just vote 1 Green, 2 Liberal, and number all other boxes in the house of representatives. Then, vote below the line in the senate. To help you do this, head to Below The Line. This site allows you to customise your senate ticket so you can print it off, take it into the voting booth and copy the numbers onto your senate ballot paper.
But, didn’t the Greens do a deal with Labor on preferences? Yes, they did, but these deals only matter if people vote above the line in the senate. Voting above the line means you trust your preferred party to allocate your vote to them first and their preferred parties next, should party 1 not get enough votes for a senate seat or have some left over.
I’d rather vote below the line and determine exactly where my preferences go. OK, it takes a little longer, but this is democracy, right? We should be happy we have this opportunity to vote for Shooters and Fishers party, if we chose to!
This election, for example, I am taking great pride in being able to put Stephen Conroy (Labor Senator) last on my senate ticket. This man has pushed for the internet filter and has labelled anyone against the filter as advocates of child porn. He’s the sort of politician I want out of politics. So I am using my democratic right to ensure my vote doesn’t assist the continuation of Conroy in parliament.
So, to summarise:
1. Work out which party best represents your view of the world
Recommended tool: the political compass
2. Ensure you understand how to best use your vote!
Recommended tool: vote below the line