Saturday, March 20, 2010

Casting my Vote

Parliament House, Hobart

Most embarrassingly, I missed out on my chance to vote in the last State election – in Western Australia, where I was resident at the time – since I had moved from one Perth suburb to another, forgetting to change my voter registration, and therefore was not on the electoral roll for the correct electorate.  It was even more embarrassing to receive the official letter asking why I had not voted, and demanding I pay a fine (voting being compulsory in State and Federal elections) if I couldn't explain why: I had to fill in a form telling of my negligence, which put paid to the fine, but left me annoyed and promising to do better in the future.  In any case, the W.A. election went as I had hoped, chucking out the incompetents in Government, and returning a hung Parliament, forcing the politicians to cooperate together.

To-day, therefore (having made sure I was properly registered at the outset of the election campaign), I went along just before noon to the nearest polling place, at Trevallyn Primary School, where I was educated.  I still remember most of the school song: "Trevallyn! Our goals are high, as year by year proceeds; As days pass by, we always try to live by worthy deeds.  From kindergarten to grade six we live the golden rule, Helping others through each day to build a glorious school."

The process was relaxed and quick: from parking my car to getting back into it took scarcely five minutes.  I walked up along the path, thinking how the bushes had grown, and how low the fence now looked, then turned into the courtyard (evidently the school tuckshop is still in the same place), before entering a building erected since my time at school there (where it is was a wall and path down to the quadrangle) – it housed the music room, for to-day separated into two parts by barriers (the musical instruments could be seen over the top).

There were half-a-dozen waiting in line when I entered, with about the same number voting, attended to by eight persons working for the Australian Electoral Commission.  Along the wall were eleven small booths at which to fill out the ballot paper.  To the left as one entered were three men to whom one went first – they checked one's name off on the electoral roll (using laptop computers) and then gave out the ballot paper.  At the entrance and exit were two other employees assisting.  To the right was a table at which several other employees were assisting a lady, I conjecture she was casting a ballot for another electorate or something like that.

Very soon I was filling in mine, numbering the candidates in order of my preference from 1 to 20 (at the least, one is required to number the first five); as the secret ballot was invented in Australia, and was first known as "the Australian ballot", I will keep my choice to myself: secretum meum mihi.

Popping the ballot into the ballot box, that was it, and I walked out.

Polls (having opened at 8 am) close at 6 pm, and there will be coverage of the count to-night on TV: for election results, see the ABC's excellent coverage online.

The newspaper informs me that the initial count of first preferences will be 90% complete by late this evening, and final distribution of preferences will be done slightly faster than in the past, with the successful election of all 25 Members of the House of Assembly to be announced by Thursday the 1st of April.  As it is, the outgoing Labor Government has announced that, with a hung Parliament expected, if the Opposition Liberals garner more seats or first preference votes than Labor, Premier Bartlett will resign and advise the Governor to appoint Will Hodgmann as the new Premier.  Only time will tell...

At least a nasty organization called Emily's List (which funds pro-choice women candidates) did me a service, by listing online those candidates it supports: I put them firmly last.  No abortion, thank you!


Joshua said...

There's been a large swing against Labor, with the Liberals gaining the largest number of votes, and a hung Parliament is certain: the likely makeup is 10 Liberal, 10 Labor and 5 Greens.

Joshua said...

Interesting... though the Liberals have polled the most votes, it appears that they may gain only 9 seats, with the Greens gaining 6 and Labor having 10: in this case, what will Premier Bartlett do?

He very craftily said that he would resign as Premier if the Liberals gained more seats, or, if Labor and Liberal gained the same number of seats, he would resign if the Liberals won more votes.

He said nothing about resigning if the Liberals won more votes but Labor won more seats!

Time will tell...

Joshua said...

With three-quarters of the votes counted, the Liberals have 39% of the vote (9 seats certain, 1 in doubt), Labor has 37% (10 seats), and the Greens 21% (4 seats, 1 in doubt).

I think we'll be seeing a new Government.

Joshua said...

Of course, the irony in all this is that, were it not for Labor destroying itself in Tasmania over environmental issues in the late seventies and eighties, and leaking support to the nascent Greens, Labor would still hold the hegemony: the left in Tasmania (Labor and Greens - the latter being mainly supported by those who would have voted Labor) still wins the majority of votes; the right (the Liberals) only rarely do so.