Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pre-poll voting

It has now been four days since the election and we still have no idea of who is to govern the State. Even the counting of absentee, postal and pre-poll voting on Tuesday has not broken Saturday’s deadlock.  The seat of Mitchell is still the one that may decide if Labor can form government in their own right, but even the Labor Party are conceding they need to persuade the two independents, Greg Brock and Bob Such to support their quest for a fourth term in government. I would be surprised if Labor managed to form minority government, even considering the anger of Bob Such at the Liberal party’s dirty campaign in the his seat of Fisher.

Saturday’s result shows that two changes are needed to the South Australian system. Firstly, like they are at Federal level, pre-poll votes should be counted on the night of the election, not held over until the counting of postal votes the following week. With the large number of pre poll votes at the election, some of the close seats could have been decided on election night if pre polls were counted, avoiding the state of confusion the state currently finds itself in.

Secondly, the requirements to be eligible to cast a pre-poll vote must be made tougher. Currently a person does not need any proof of an inability to attend a polling venue on Election Day to cast a vote prior to the day. An election is about which party is the most popular on the day that is set down as voting day, in this case March 15, not the days or the week leading up to it. An election is a month to six week long campaign, with its ups and downs and controversies and different parties taking the upper hand at different points in the process. By voting early, they are missing out on all these aspects and are not getting the entire picture of the parties and candidates policies. The Liberal Party did not release its budget outlook until the day before the poll, so thousands of South Australians cast their vote with no knowledge of where the Liberal Party were going to spend their taxes. Maybe that is why the conservatives are expected to do so well in pre-poll ballots.

In future elections it must be made much tougher for people to vote early.  Some sort of proof, whether it is a work schedule, an airline ticket or a hotel booking, must be provided for someone to have the ability to enter their ballot prior to the day. Elections are about who the public want to govern ON ELECTION DAY. Not up to a month before.

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