Australian Election 2007

Earlier today, all Australian citizens of age went out to the polling places to vote for their representatives and senators in Parliament. I say “all” because voting in elections here is mandatory (though some people find ways not to vote). Basically, the political party with the majority of representatives voted into Parliament wins the election and that party’s leader becomes Prime Minister.

This was the first time I have to vote for the Australian federal elections and I’m a bit excited and anxious. Excited because my vote will help decide who Australia’s next Prime Minister will be. Anxious because I’m not sure how elections are done here.

It reminded me about how chaotic elections are in my home country. In the Philippines, there are a lot of security measures that needed to be met on election day to ensure that no cheating occurs. Thumb prints are taken and black tough-to-remove ink is dropped on your fingernail as a sign that you already voted (and cannot vote again). Ballot boxes need to be chained and guarded by third party volunteers at all times or risk it being stolen.

Another difference between elections here and in the Philippines I’d like to note is that the elections here are held on the weekend. That means no free day off for us which is a bit of a bummer.

The polling places opened at 8am and closed its doors at 6pm. We went to the nearest polling place from our house at around 10:15 am. That’s right. We can go to any polling place in our area and we don’t have to be assigned to a specific polling place like in the Philippines.

Anyway, there was a queue when we got to the place. It wasn’t a long queue though and it didn’t take long before for us to get to the table with the lady with all the list of names of voters in our area. We told her our names and she looked it up in her thick binder. When she found our names, she marked our names with a pencil and handed us our ballots.

Each of us got two sheets of paper. One small green one where we have to rank the Representative candidates of different political parties. We have to put a “1” on the box beside the name of our first choice candidate. Then write “2” on the box of our second choice and so on. Frankly, I’m not sure why we needed to even rank them. I’m pretty sure simple “check” in the box for our favoured candidate would have sufficed. But I guess there is a reason behind the ranking thing. I’ll find that out later.

The second sheet of paper is a long white sheet of paper with a list of all the political parties and the names of senatorial candidates for each one. We have two choices here: we can either rank (again!) all the senatorial candidates (there are a lot of them!) or just put “1” on the box of the political party you wish to support. Since I don’t want to waste any more time ranking every senatorial candidate (and I don’t even know any of them), I just did the easier second option.

After that, we fold up the two sheets of paper and drop them in their respective cardboard ballot boxes. And that was it. No thumb prints, no ink on fingers. The entire thing took less than fifteen minutes. It was that painless. It was so easy I couldn’t believe it.

But here’s the even better part. Before Saturday ended, we already know the winner of the election! Unbelievable! Specially for someone like me who grew up with elections in the Philippines. I wish elections back home was this simple and organised. But I guess doing the same thing back home would result with a lot of unscrupulous people cheating the elections. That is just unfortunate.

Anyway, if you don’t know yet, the Australian Labor Party won the election and Kevin Rudd is now the new Prime Minister of Australia.

Published in: on November 24, 2007 at 11:32 pm  Comments (6)