Early voting trend finds support

People across Australia are expected to take advantage of pre-poll voting opportunities which opened this week.
Hills folk will be no different and a steady stream of Mayo voters will be heading into the special Mt Barker, Strathalbyn and Bridgewater polling stations to elect a local representative and wrestle with a Senate paper the size of a bedsheet in a cardboard booth as big as a bathmat.
Early voting has been warmly embraced since its relatively recent introduction and 30% of people are expected to vote before the May 18 election date.
This change to the voting system is very convenient for many people – especially those who work or have other regular commitments on Saturdays – but it poses a number of problems for political parties.
The impact of a final week cash splash or a signature announcement is lessened significantly if a third of the population has already voted, while the benefit of last-minute advertising blitzes and annoying robo calls may be brought into question for the same reason.
The much vaunted ‘leaders debates’ will become just more background noise for early voters.
This means political parties must broadcast their policies and intentions early in the campaign which allows for greater scrutiny from the media, interest groups and their political opponents.
This can only be good.
Early voting also means that those who take advantage of this opportunity will probably switch off and become completely disengaged for the rest of the campaign.
And with negative campaigns which deliberately denigrate opponents rather than highlighting the proponent’s positives becoming normal, it is little wonder that average people – many of whom do not engage with politics at all or perhaps only on a very superficial level – find the whole process utterly unattractive and unedifying.
Elections should be about electing a party with a vision for the future and a well-constructed plan of how to get there.
However, much of what is currently being delivered by both sides of politics is driving people into the cardboard booths in pre-poll centres in their millions so they can tick a few boxes and switch off.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.