Blame it on the system

Posted on July 25, 2010 by

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Julia Gillard’s announcement of an August 21 polling day left only one working day to enrol to vote. With campaigns that encourage potential voters into the ballot box only beginning to spread online, it’s likely that most people weren’t bothered. While there are a number of reasons to be apathetic about politics, for the most part we can blame it on the enrolment system just not working.

Many last-minute voters who logged into the Australian Electoral Commissions (AEC) website on Monday morning were met with a clunky system, which gave users trying to download the application form a blank page or an error message.

Attempting to change my electorate details from the southern NSW seat of Eden-Monaro to the seat of Wentworth in Sydney was for the most part an impossible task. Confined to my desk at work, it sadly meant that I had to call my local post office and ask them to fax the form to me.

The AEC, who perhaps like many other people thought the election would be held later in the year, admit that the system was slow. Halfway through the day – amid the frenzy of angry callers and desperate voters – their spokesperson, Phil Diak called for calm.

“The website is obviously experiencing capacity issues, which is to be expected today,” he said, flicking in and out of other phone calls. “If people can’t retry the website they can get an enrolment form from their local post office.”

With the latest enrolment data yet to be released, it’s hard to say just how many people were once again left off the rolls. But looking at past enrolment data of younger voters in particular, a swarm of last minute votes wouldn’t have made much difference to the main parties preferences.

April figures from the AEC estimate that over 430,000 Australians aged between 18 and 24 were yet to enrol to vote.
Crikey blogger, Possum Comitatus from Pollytics says the enrolment numbers of voters between the age of 18-24 make little difference to the overall two party preferred vote between Labor and the Liberal Party.

“If just under 54,000 young people got on the roll between July 1st and Monday July 19th (when the rolls closed), 18-24 enrolment would hit the 80% level – a big ask BTW. At this level the ALP would expect to get around a 0.03% boost to their TPP, maybe up to 0.05% if historical voting patterns were repeated,” Possum said.

With this in mind, it’s little wonder that both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are yet to make any significant pledges to the younger electorate. As Gillard has said, it’s our birthright to vote, but it seems the rights of younger voters are unlikely to be at the forefront of this years campaign.

Words by Joel Tozer

Image via Kagey_b

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Posted in: Joel Tozer, Reports