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Australia Elects Libertarian-Leaning Senator (By Accident)

timothy posted about a year ago | from the people's-popular-front-of-new-south-wales-came-in-third dept.

Australia 343

LordLucless writes "Australia's Liberal Democratic Party, which describes itself as a classically liberal, free-market libertarian party, has had their candidate for New South Wales elected to the upper house, with roughly double the number of votes they were expecting. In part, this has been attributed to them being placed first on the ballot paper (which is determined by a random process) and similarities in name to one of the major parties, the Liberal Party of Australia."

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Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794175)

Maybe not, but pretty close!

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (3, Funny)

aaron4801 (3007881) | about a year ago | (#44794215)

#Florida

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (5, Insightful)

WarJolt (990309) | about a year ago | (#44794255)

New slashdot poll.
How many hours did you spent researching candidates?
1. 0. I don't vote.
2. 0. I just vote along party lines.
3...5 The rest of the options are probably statistically insignificant anyway so I won't even put them.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (4, Informative)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about a year ago | (#44794269)

I spent about 15hrs going through all the various policies from all the senate candidates. It truly was a difficult decision who to put last... and really quite depressing to have parties like the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party, who only got a very small number of primary votes make it through to the senate on preferences.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (4, Interesting)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year ago | (#44794397)

Did you use senate.io [senate.io] ? Really great tool.

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of voters will not take the 10-15mins it takes to vote below the line, let alone the hours of studying the policies AND the registered preferences of the 45 odd parties vying for election. I think perhaps the most egregious outcome is the probable election of a WA Senator who received less the 0.25% of the primary vote!

As much as I like exhaustive preferential voting on principle, the time has come to give voters the right to vote optionally preferentially above the line (if not also below it), so that votes are not cast against the voters actual preferences.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (3, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#44794457)

will not take the 10-15mins it takes to vote below the line, let alone the hours of studying the policies AND the registered preferences of the 45 odd parties vying for election.

Que? It took me about ten minutes to classify all of the minor parties on a rough political spectrum, and about two to sort them on senate.io. Then less than five minutes to number all the boxes on Saturday.

Of course, below-the-liners don't even get counted unless there are enough to match the above-the-line minor voters.

As much as I like exhaustive preferential voting on principle, the time has come to give voters the right to vote optionally preferentially above the line (if not also below it), so that votes are not cast against the voters actual preferences.

Better to eliminate the above the line vote, but allow people to preference for as many below-the-line candidates as they wish. Once they stop (which can be just a [1] for the preferred party-leader) the remainder of their distributed preferences would then flow according to the registered-preferences of their [1] choice. (So that no one is disenfranchised by limiting their vote, only if they deliberately spoil their ballot.)

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794507)

Your suggestion wouldn't help. You'd still get crazy shit like the AMEP, because preference harvesting would continue to determine the results.

The only plausible options are optional preferential with either no above the line or preferential above the line (so you can number 1, 2, 3 etc. above the line as a shortcut for the whole party). If a person honestly has no preference of this party over that party, their vote should exhaust (because they're saying "I don't care"), and with vote exhaustion the party with the largest share of people who care would win at any given time.

None of this would fix the LDP getting elected (or the DLP in Victoria last election). Howard changed the naming laws so that parties with names that were close to another party's, who'd been elected to parliament, couldn't register, but all that did was stop Clive Palmer's United Australia Party, and no-one's going to confuse the old UAP with the new one, unlike the LDP and the DLP with Liberal and Labor.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44794465)

I think perhaps the most egregious outcome is the probable election of a WA Senator who received less the 0.25% of the primary vote!

As much as I like exhaustive preferential voting on principle, the time has come to give voters the right to vote optionally preferentially above the line (if not also below it), so that votes are not cast against the voters actual preferences.

I am totally for optional preferences above the line, but I think it's dubious to think of the primary vote as somehow indicative of a party's validity. We have a preferential system for a reason, and that's because first-past-the-post is unrepresentative - it forces the vote into a two-party system.

We need to get people allocating their preferences themselves, not suggesting that preferences are somehow less valid that the primary vote.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (3, Interesting)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about a year ago | (#44794505)

Did you use senate.io [senate.io] ? Really great tool.

Nope, I used belowtheline.org.au [belowtheline.org.au] .

The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of voters will not take the 10-15mins it takes to vote below the line, let alone the hours of studying the policies AND the registered preferences of the 45 odd parties vying for election. I think perhaps the most egregious outcome is the probable election of a WA Senator who received less the 0.25% of the primary vote!

I *almost* considered voting above the line, but none of the parties put their preferences quite the way I liked them. It must be frustrating for the candidates who did well in the primary votes to be pipped at the post by preference deals.

As much as I like exhaustive preferential voting on principle, the time has come to give voters the right to vote optionally preferentially above the line (if not also below it), so that votes are not cast against the voters actual preferences.

I actually think the time has come for the idea of true democracy - where everyone gets to vote in parliament on every thing - a large percentage of the population carries a smart phone and would be able to install an app to vote in federal issues. I think that's what the Senator Online party were aiming for. If the time hasn't come already for this style of democracy, it will soon...

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (3, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44794557)

I actually think the time has come for the idea of true democracy - where everyone gets to vote in parliament on every thing

If the majority of people won't spend 15 minutes sorting out who they want to represent them once every few years, what on earth would be the advantage of giving them a direct vote on every issue?

They'd be voting based on TV soundbites they weren't able to avoid while skipping around the DVR, and the name of the Bill.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about a year ago | (#44794669)

A push notification comes up on your phone. "Parliamentary vote on carbon tax" with an option of "Yes, No, Abstain" with no answer supplied taken as an abstention. Much easier, much fewer politicians required. ;)

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794511)

I found ClueyVoter much easier to use. I used senate.io last election. This election there was just to much dross to sift through.

Re: Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794271)

6. Profit!

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#44794415)

What about "a couple of hours because I set up a head to head bracket and flip coins until there's a single winner".

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (1)

immaterial (1520413) | about a year ago | (#44794469)

IIRC, #1 isn't an option in Australia, for better or worse. That probably inflates group #2 a bit.

Re:Austrailians as stupid as Americans? (1)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | about a year ago | (#44794699)

Not all Australian residents are Australian citizens over the age of 18.

Not only by accident... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794183)

...there's a bit of trick, too:

http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/08/22/revealed-the-libertarian-rights-micro-party-links/

Voting "Accident"? I think not. (4, Insightful)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year ago | (#44794193)

In the last 30 years, when has the losing party every accepted the loss gracefully?

Sure, the article says "Mr Leyonhjelm accepts his party probably gained votes in error, with voters thinking they were choosing the Liberals." ... but what else is he supposed to say?

When the people make a massive mistake in democracy, it's still their decision to make. Look at the american elections for the last 20 years. Both sides will say the people made mistakes.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (5, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#44794251)

In the US, the losing presidential candidates tend to concede defeat gracefully. And grace is relative; regularly changing power from one party to another with virtually no violence is unusual in the history of human civilizations.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794297)

regularly changing power from one party to another with virtually no violence is unusual in the history of human civilizations.

That's because the same party (i.e. group of people) stays in power, what changes is the figurehead they give orders to.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794313)

Very true, unless you are an ultra rich Mormon, who pays sycophants to constantly paint a completely warped picture of reality.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794477)

or an nonwhite 'raised up' by the 'sophisticated' liberal elites to be used as a figure head that 'proves' how 'tolerant' they are. Meanwhile he supports (and voted for) most of the neocon policies concerning safety > liberty.

Either way you put it, washington is rigged. The more power you give it, the more control we give vertically myopic special interests on both sides over the minutiae of our lives. Fuck that shit.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794319)

That's because the power never really changes. It stays in the hands of the businesses and their lobbyists. They pay any side that looks like it has a chance of winning. They don't care who the figure head is.

It also helps that there's multiple precedents of the new guys forgiving and hiding any wrongdoings the other guys did.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (2, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#44794485)

You're forgetting the special 'social' interests that make up the bulk of the left wing lobby field. They promote systemically driven privilege as 'equality' to justify more government in our lives, picking the winners and losers in ever growing numbers of situations...and the taxpayer pay the bill! These people are as guilty as your neocon fuckwits for the destruction of liberty in this country.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a year ago | (#44794687)

This includes NGOs of course, who lobby the government for money, some of which they spend on... lobbying the government.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44794637)

That's because the power never really changes. It stays in the hands of the businesses and their lobbyists.

So where do the real powers like the various US intelligence agencies fit into your scheme?

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#44794367)

Sure, the article says "Mr Leyonhjelm accepts his party probably gained votes in error, with voters thinking they were choosing the Liberals." ... but what else is he supposed to say?

I think the mistake was that the voter simply didn't care. I highly doubt, as dumb as Liberal voters are that they would accidentally vote Liberal Democrat as opposed to Liberal.

What happened is that apathetic voters simply put 1 into the first box on the page and dumped the paper into the Ballot box. They really didn't care who was in the box, they just voted to avoid being fined (yes, in Australia if you dont vote you get a fine). I'm just glad one of the obviously racist parties (One Nation, Stable Population) wasn't in pole position.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44794399)

Oddly, it reminds me of the Liberal party in Canada, who whined and cried over conservative voter fraud. Oddly enough, with elections canada stuffed to the gills with Liberal-friendly appointees, the only ones who've been found egregiously guilty were the Liberals and NDP...and that was in both cases of robocalls. The same thing that people(mainly special interest groups funded by leftwing groups from the US--gee I wonder why the Canadian Revenue Agency is looking closely at their finances now) were clamoring about with the conservatives.

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794581)

...the only ones who've been found egregiously guilty were the Liberals and NDP...and that was in both cases of robocalls.

Seriously?

"Sona, who was fired from his job working for Conservative MP Eve Adams when the robocalls story broke last year, says that he is innocent, and has said in several televised interviews that he is being used as a scapegoat by the Conservative Party."

and

"Elections Canada is also investigating reports of similar calls across the country, and in May, federal judge Richard Mosley ruled that “misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country,” likely using data from the Conservatives’ database program."

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/national/Robocalls+judge+there+needs+trial/8847956/story.html

Where are you getting your news?

Re:Voting "Accident"? I think not. (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year ago | (#44794605)

Where are you getting your news?

The ones where people have actually been convicted of said misleading and fraudulent calls. Until that happens via court, or via elections canada--my statement is factually correct. Unlike some people who love to bash, and be partisan hacks. I'm more than happy to wait for the wheels of justice to work it's course.

Good news (4, Insightful)

Endovior (2450520) | about a year ago | (#44794201)

In my experience, you get better government when there are more opinions at the table. The occasional election of people from minor parties (Greens, Pirates, Libertarians, etc...) makes it more likely for there to be objections to the really awful policies that the mainstream politicos try to force through. Even if you don't necessarily agree with what the guys have to say, they're probably a better choice than the typical minions of the expected 'lesser evil'. As such, it's good news when these sorts of guys get in... even if it was possibly 'an accident'.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794281)

Except that in this case (arguably far) right wing already won the lower house and this will sway things even more in that direction.

Re:Good news (2, Insightful)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44794673)

Well, if you think that it's far right wing, you are probably just a greens voter, where anything that isn't your position, is right wing. Most of australia is relatively speaking, right wing. It's just the highly urbanised and inner city areas which are populated by wealthy professionals who don't produce anything where the left wing ideologies are popular. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-04/vote-compass-left-right-electorates/4929064 [abc.net.au]

Re:Good news (1)

Pino Grigio (2232472) | about a year ago | (#44794697)

arguably far right wing

Arguable if you're a blithering idiot, or a socialist, yes.

As someone who worked at the elections (4, Informative)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44794207)

Once the count was on and I started to see a few more votes in that pile for the liberal democrats, I knew it was going to take a sizable proportion off the mainstream party in error. Having a look at statistics though, where I was working and surrounding regions had informal vote rates of 12% to 15% (much higher than the national average). It's also a labor party stronghold, which is the party who just got knocked out.

It's also worth pointing out that the particular ballot paper was enormous, over 1m long, 110 candidates for 6 positions, 35 parties and can be very confusing to explain to people who barely speak english, on how to make their vote formal, let alone read the 6.5 point print on who they're voting for.

Moral of the story is, you can't help stupid people, but you can let them to vote... (NB: Australia has compulsory attendance to vote and compulsory preferential voting in federal elections)

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794253)

Or maybe people are just sick of the usual bullshit...

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (2)

brian.stinar (1104135) | about a year ago | (#44794287)

Moral of the story is, you can't help stupid people, but you can *force them to vote....

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794515)

Moral of the story is, you can't help stupid people, but you can *force them to vote....

No, you can threaten them with fines for not showing up and getting their name marked off a list, but as for actually putting a 1 in a box, you're still free to abstain from doing that. I personally scribbled on my voting paper. Literally scribbled.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794519)

What makes you think they're stupid? Just because they're forced by law to vote hence why the turn up and tick the first name off the list doesn't necessarily mean they have a loss of cognitive function.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794573)

Yes, it does. Either that or they're all chaotic evil.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794685)

Yes, it does. Either that or they're all chaotic evil.

Given the ballot order is randomized, such that every year a different party gets the boost, it sounds chaotic neutral to me.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44794311)

Moral of the story is randomly choosing the order of the names on the ballot a single time then using that order on all the ballots doesn't actually accomplish anything.

It's like making a random number generator with a single fair dice roll.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794317)

Or said 35 parties could simply form a coalition of assistance instead of a winner-take-all, "you didn't get any seats? well then what use are you? GTFO LOSER!"

If I had to chose between 110 different people for 6 positions, I'd stop giving a shit too. For all the shit Americans get for not knowing their two (and, lol, occasionally a third) presidential candidates, do you seriously expect the average Australian to know each of the 110 candidates across 35 political parties?

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794375)

If they formed a coalition they'd need a stable ideological platform.

The micro-parties use single platform planks for a party "Motor," "Shoot," "Sport," "4WD," "Christ," "Family," "Migration," "Stop the left," which adds up to an ultrafar right party-network. And the LDP are part of this. They're not libertarian, they're the guns party with a stop migration platform explicitly. And voters lap it up because they like cars or guns or sports or christ individually, but wouldn't vote for a party that right wing. They're registered for one election, change their name at will, and usually have the same five people organising them.

Compare to "The Sex Party," which is actually a fully formed social libertarian, economically centrist party built out of a long running small business organisation. Sex has a fully formed platform on economics, morality, censorship, surveillance. They just happen to have come out of a bunch of small business people who sell sex for a living. Sex should probably merge with Pirate and Wikileaks, given their platform similarities. The Sexy Pirateleek Party.

Or Greens which started as a fusion of ecologists and social-justice communists, and 40 years later is still a fusion of ecologists and social-justice leftists with a fully formed platform who costs every policy. The variety of microscopic left parties that could be "Trees" or "Carbon" or "Wages" or "Gender" is the Greens. They have to sell their message through policies and candidates, not by registering a thousand party names.

The reason why the far right doesn't form a coalition, is because they're scared Christ will scare the 4WDs, the Guns will scare the Radical-Free-Marketeers, and the Sports will scare the Racists.

Re: As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794413)

I would totally vote for someone of the motor stop the left family shoot party.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794431)

Leaky Pirate Sex Party - "We've got your back!"

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794625)

I don't know about the Green Leaky Pirate Sex Party though...

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44794353)

Moral of the story is, you can't help stupid people, but you can let them to vote... (NB: Australia has compulsory attendance to vote and compulsory preferential voting in federal elections)

Errr... ummm... you sure that the subtle whiff of superiority emanating from your post was really what you mean?

Is voting for liberal democrats an act of stupidity?
Or... is making a(n individual) mistake a symptom of stupidity... only because many others made the same mistake?
Ah, maybe "barely speaking english" would be a sign of stupidity, is that it?

You know, rather than having me inferring reasons for your attempt of "moral of the story", why wouldn't you ellaborate on what you mean by it, mate?

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794405)

Voting for a party with a platform one line long, without checking how its preferences flow (ie: what political network it is part of) is stupidity.

Voting for a major party because "me mum" voted for it, without inspecting whether your mum makes good decisions, or even if the party is still the same party your mum voted for is stupidity.

A donkey vote, without a considered opinion on the futility of politics, is stupidity.

An informal vote, or a refusal to appear, without a considered opinion on the futility of politics, is stupidity.

A vote for a party with an excellent and well developed platform, likely to achieve office and be held accountable and so deliver elements of its platform, without a considered opinion on the futility of politics, is stupidity.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44794489)

A vote for a party with an excellent and well developed platform, likely to achieve office and be held accountable and so deliver elements of its platform, without a considered opinion on the futility of politics, is stupidity.

Hmmm... I cannot but like the way you think... even if it's somehow wrong (rationale: not considering the limits - futility, in extrem - of politics cannot be interpreted as a proof of stupidity... even if it may be a sign of it).

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (4, Insightful)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year ago | (#44794471)

Well, I can't speak for the original poster, but in my book anyone who can't even figure out the name of which candidate they intend to vote for doesn't deserve to have their vote counted.

This is the main reason why I support removing party affiliation from all ballots. If someone can't be bothered to learn the name of the person that they're voting for, then they shouldn't be voting. Increasing voter turnout is only a worthwhile goal if the voters actually have some idea of what they're doing.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44794529)

If someone can't be bothered to learn the name of the person that they're voting for, then they shouldn't be voting.

I would tend to agree... but not entirely... not knowing the name of the person for which one is voting can have a larger number of causes than only "can't be bothered".

Increasing voter turnout is only a worthwhile goal if the voters actually have some idea of what they're doing.

Eh, no. I prefer to have a compulsory voting for the same reason I prefer a society with compulsory elementary schooling... compulsory voting requires a participation in civic matters.
Even if some/many will still end "illiterate" or "lacking basic numeracy skills", there are chances that some (hopefully many) would actually get "some idea of what they're doing", be it only ofr the reasons of supporting the consequences of a wrong voting choice
(the above - a convoluted way of saying: "No mistakes, no learning")

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (2)

sd4f (1891894) | about a year ago | (#44794583)

Most people just couldn't care less. They don't inform themselves, they don't attempt to read things through properly, and after having a few people argue with me about voting, when I'm explaining to them what they have to do to vote formally, because if they did what they wanted to do, then their vote wouldn't count. I'm quite disenchanted with my electorate.

Yes calling them stupid is over the top, particularly for people who don't speak english well.

As for the liberal democrats, I enjoy shooting, so a part of me likes that this error occurred, but the media fallout (and just see the comment above about "ultra right" parties. I have no clue how enjoying vehicles, sport, shooting or fishing makes someone right wing, but as soon as it's something the green left don't agree with, they immediately label it as right wing) is not helping certain causes, most of all shooting rights (of which Australians don't really have any rights to). Because of this, another part of me thinks that it might be a backward step that they were promoted, basically through an error because they have a similar name to a popular party; I think it would be much better if it grew organically. Fact of the matter is, most of the electors still wouldn't have a clue that they voted, in error, for the liberal democrats.

I once thought that compulsory voting attendance was a good idea, because in theory it tries to make voters accountable and politically informed, but after working at a few elections, I can plainly see that almost all the people do not give a shit. They have absolutely no idea who their candidates are, and they don't even know which electorate they are in. The theory behind compulsory voting just doesn't apply in practice. Since the overwhelming majority of them, if it was optional voting, they wouldn't have come. The most important step for so many people is making sure their name is crossed off so that they don't get a fine. Because of that, I do think they're stupid.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#44794675)

Yes calling them stupid is over the top, particularly for people who don't speak english well.

( ;) Apologies accepted - I'm not a native English speaker myself ;) )

As for the liberal democrats, I enjoy shooting, so a part of me likes that this error occurred, but the media fallout (and just see the comment above about "ultra right" parties. I have no clue how enjoying vehicles, sport, shooting or fishing makes someone right wing, but as soon as it's something the green left don't agree with, they immediately label it as right wing) is not helping certain causes, most of all shooting rights (of which Australians don't really have any rights to). Because of this, another part of me thinks that it might be a backward step that they were promoted, basically through an error because they have a similar name to a popular party; I think it would be much better if it grew organically. Fact of the matter is, most of the electors still wouldn't have a clue that they voted, in error, for the liberal democrats.

Take all the above as a mistake (a honest one or just from carelessness, doesn't matter, still a mistake); with all the opportunities a mistake has for learning to do better next time. Yes, agreed, it may be a "lesson" many others in the same community may not need to learn; for them, there's another lesson, me thinks: living with the imperfections of the others, without eating their liver own over it.

I once thought that compulsory voting attendance was a good idea, because in theory it tries to make voters accountable and politically informed, but after working at a few elections, I can plainly see that almost all the people do not give a shit. They have absolutely no idea who their candidates are, and they don't even know which electorate they are in. The theory behind compulsory voting just doesn't apply in practice. Since the overwhelming majority of them, if it was optional voting, they wouldn't have come. The most important step for so many people is making sure their name is crossed off so that they don't get a fine. Because of that, I do think they're stupid.

I still think compulsory voting is still a good idea, in the same sense compulsory elementary schooling is. As a society, you just don't accept kids to give school a miss, why should one accept giving the elections a miss?

And I might agree with all you said above, would you be to change the wording of the last phrase from "stupid" into "ignorant" - I would even accept "wifully ignorant" or "lazy" ("stupid" does carry the connotation of "mental dullness". While being stupid will most likely cause ignorance, being ignorant may not be caused always caused by stupidity). Shall we settle on it?

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (4, Interesting)

Any Web Loco (555458) | about a year ago | (#44794461)

I worked the election too and saw the same thing. A huge number of people came up to me asking which ones were "the Liberals" (meaning the Liberal National coalition, rather than the Liberal Democrats), and of course wasn't allowed to tell them, but it was pretty clear to myself and the election officers I was working with that people saw the word "Liberal" at the start of the ballot paper and then just ticked that box.

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

complete loony (663508) | about a year ago | (#44794565)

And I assume you're also not allowed to direct them outside to those people who could help answer that question?

Re:As someone who worked at the elections (1)

complete loony (663508) | about a year ago | (#44794555)

It's a pity that all informal votes are clumped together under one number. How many of those are deliberate?

Appalling (1, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about a year ago | (#44794259)

Any system that lets someone be elected by accident is absolutely appalling. Australia would do well to reevaluate their system so that this doesn't happen in the future.

Politics and national leadership is far too important to be decided by absurd errors.

Re:Appalling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794291)

You misspelled "Appealing." ;)

Re:Appalling (4, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | about a year ago | (#44794305)

Any system that lets someone be elected by accident is absolutely appalling. Australia would do well to reevaluate their system so that this doesn't happen in the future.

Politics and national leadership is far too important to be decided by absurd errors.

You know that any system where you ask common people to decide things will allow for stuff to happen by accident, right?

Re:Appalling (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794309)

Yes, such a system is appalling. But since every voting system allows this, every voting system is appalling. Australia's system is just slightly less appalling than some others.

Re:Appalling (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44794351)

Any system that lets someone be elected by accident is absolutely appalling.

Yet it was done in the US in 2000 and 2004. "accidental" votes (hanging chads, pregnant chads, etc.) got counted or discarded, affecting the election.

Re:Appalling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794391)

Dunno, better than some of the idiots that get elected deliberately here.

The political system here is heavilly biased towards having just two dominant parties - the 'accidents' are likely the only thing between us and right (or left) wing dominated governments - and governments don't really get elected on the basis of their policies here, they get kicked out because enough people are pissed off with them.

In this case in particular those minority parties are more of a stabilizing influence than anything else.

Re:Appalling (4, Informative)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year ago | (#44794395)

Election of this candidate was no accident. This is not first-past-the-post voting and the individual did not gain a quota outright. He won because other parties passed their votes to him after they were eliminated. As the LDP candidate points out, the senate voting preference system is open, well documented and the specific preferences are available to the public for weeks before the election. If electors cannot be bothered to vote with their own preferences (an admittedly tedious affair) then they take the parties preferences as published. In this case, there were tight preference deals between the litany of single-issue and minor parties. That minor parties can use that system to their own advantage is neither a surprise nor unexpected. It's equally naive to think the major parties do not play the same game... they are just not as "looney" or "fringe" and less worthy of media sensationalism.

as good as (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794289)

I suppose "by accident" is as good as by stupidity, apathy or voting AGAINST a candidate vs. FOR a candidate.

It's not really "by accident"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794329)

It should be noted that in the 2010 election, for the NSW Senate seats, the Liberal Democrats where the 'first runner up', i.e. top 6 gets a Senator in, they came 7th (undeniably though preferences from the Shooters & Fishers and the Sex Party, which are all ideologically similar), knocked out in the final round by the Greens . They didn't need much more than what they had to get in, and likely would have even if they hadn't been first on the ballot (presuming their support-base has increased since the last election, even if only a little).

Liberal Party is a confusing coalition already (1)

Wizarth (785742) | about a year ago | (#44794333)

I honestly thought the Liberal Democratic Party was part of the "Liberal Party", since what is referred to as the Liberal Party is actually a coalition of 4 (I think) different parties with names of a similar structure.

And they sure as heck aren't liberal in policy, either. In fact they are the more conservative of the two main parties.

Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (5, Informative)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about a year ago | (#44794341)

The Australian Labor party is what you'd call a liberal party.
The Australian Liberal party is a centre-right conservative party,
And this Liberal Democratic party is closer to your republicans.

Got it?

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (2)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about a year ago | (#44794347)

...and Australian Republicans just want to get rid of the Queen and monarchy

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794411)

Yes, and the only reason we aren't a republic is that when we last had a vote on it everyone could see who was lining up the job of 'President', shuddered in horror and decided a Queen living on the other side of the world would be better than that. (O.K. one of her Corgi's would have been better )...

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (4, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44794427)

Actually, the reason we don't have a republic was that the referendum was Monarchy vs Republic with a Politically-Appointed President, which eliminated anyone who wanted a popularly elected president from the debate.

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794539)

Who needs a popularly elected president when we can elect government representatives to choose one for us?

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794549)

Who needs to elect a representative when the job's function is doing what the prime minister says and opening lambington stalls.

We should appoint a APS4 public servant for life under that very job description.

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year ago | (#44794421)

The Australian Liberals are closer to the US Republicans.

Unless I'm mistaken, the Republicans haven't been campaigning on a platform of drug legalisation and gay marriage of late...

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794547)

To clarify on Neo-Rio-101's "primer",

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) believe in social liberalism and socialist economics. (ie. Gay marriage and a tax and spend approach) The ALP align with the US Democrats.

The Liberal-National Coalition (Coalition) believe in social conservatism and economic liberalism. (ie. No gay marriage, and a free market approach) The Coalition align with the US Republicans.

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794643)

Just to add to the confusion:

Democrats: Formerly a strong third party who ran on the platform of "keeping the bastards honest". Did a deal with the bastards to bring in a controversial tax and then turned into a generic left-wing protest party (market already cornered by the Greens). After that and some leadership musical chairs, the party is effectively extinct.

Democratic Labour Party: Social conservatives. Thought to be extinct for 40 years until the last election got them a seat.

Christian Democrats: More social conservatism, deeply religious.

Re:Primer on OZ Politics for Americans (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about a year ago | (#44794657)

So, like everything else lately, deceptive obfuscated nomenclature to befuddle the democratic process of the morons.

liberal != libertarian (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794343)

Just want to point out here that "Libertarian" is not at all the same as "Liberal." In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite: conservative on both economic and social axes. People get confused because the terms are often applied backwards because of how the major parties tend to be the opposites on the social axis as on the economic axis.

Re:liberal != libertarian (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#44794383)

Just want to point out here that "Libertarian" is not at all the same as "Liberal." In fact, it's pretty much the exact opposite: conservative on both economic and social axes.

No, that would, rather by definition, be conservative.

Though it's even more confusing when you realise that 'liberals' are now conservatives trying to maintain all the 'progressive' nonsense they've pushed on the West in the last century, while 'conservatives' are trying to eliminate it.

So we live in a world where 'liberals' are conservatives, 'conservatives' are radicals and 'libertarians' are... something else entirely, I guess.

Re: liberal != libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794409)

Only that libertarians are liberal, not conservative, in both axes.

Re: liberal != libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794481)

Sure, if you accept the Manchester School's bastardisation of Enlightenment liberalism, sure.

Re: liberal != libertarian (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about a year ago | (#44794725)

And why not?

Good (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44794381)

Finally something that is done 'in error' is actually something GOOD for a change.

Libertarian, free market guy in any government? I just hope he is in fact a real libertarian.

What you get when you mandate voting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794455)

Voting is mandatory in Australia. If you don't vote, and they catch you, you get fined.

Re:What you get when you mandate voting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794491)

trick is not to register.

Re:What you get when you mandate voting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794611)

WRONG

It is mandatory to have your name marked off on the rolls as attending a polling station IF you are registred. If you vote after that, that's up to you.

So either dont register or just turn up, mark off and fuck off. You do not have to vote.

As a hardcore Libertarian I'm glad this happened. (2)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year ago | (#44794473)

Reason #1 - Even though it's the opposite side of the globe from me it spreads the ideology and that makes me happy.

Reason #2 - This most likely happened due to Australia mandatory voting policy - which as a Libertarian mandatory anything annoys me - so it sort of proves our point.

Senate missing from TV coverage (2)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about a year ago | (#44794499)

As it was my first time in Australia for an election, I watched on TV. The coverage was completely about the lower house. By the time I quit watching (Rudd's concession speech) I don't think there had been so much as a mention of the fact that senators were being elected also. It was weird and puzzling.

Re:Senate missing from TV coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794577)

That's something I find disappointing about the coverage usually, but it's also because the Senate is a lot more complicated to count, even with above-the-line voting.

The 5th and 6th positions which aren't foregone conclusions depend quite sensitively on the preference flows from above (i.e. elected candidates who have already reached their quota) and below (minor candidates who get dropped in each iteration of counting). You usually don't have an answer for a few days.

Re:Senate missing from TV coverage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794593)

The senate count is a 2x2 member and 6x6 member multi member election with a full preference count over up to 110 candidates using a quota of votes / (seats + 1).

It generally takes until the end of the night to get good "data" to make a prediction from, as a few hundred votes can change the count. It'll take a number of weeks to do a full Senate distribution of votes and preference count, and people who voted below the line (like myself) get their votes counted and can change the result.

It would be a fast vote to count if all the ballots were in one place: http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/Website/External/SenateStateDop-15508-NSW.pdf

Is the full 2010 count for NSW, the most populous state.

Compulsory voting in AU (1)

pongo000 (97357) | about a year ago | (#44794509)

It's my understanding that voting is compulsory in AU. When you vote, must you mark your ballot?

Given that not everyone is interested in voting, would it not make sense to simply mark the ballot the easiest way possible (i.e., from the top)?

Re:Compulsory voting in AU (5, Informative)

srjh (1316705) | about a year ago | (#44794561)

You don't have to mark your ballot, and even if you did, that would require them to check your ballots before you dropped it in the box, which they don't do.

You can drop in a blank ballot, draw a penis on it, or whatever you like; if it doesn't follow the rules it's called "informal" and not counted.

What you're describing is still quite common - it's called the donkey vote (numbering the ballot from the top), is a valid vote, and actually gives the top candidates a slight edge.

Re:Compulsory voting in AU (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794579)

You don't actually have to put anything in the Ballot - if you were so inclined you could simply sign off your name and put the blank ballot papers straight into the box and nothing would be said.

As a side note: People must dislike the Australian Electoral Commission vote counters because it's not like a politician is ever going to see the penises and expletives they marked their ballots with.

Re:Compulsory voting in AU (5, Informative)

F1re (249002) | about a year ago | (#44794713)

You don't actually have to put anything in the Ballot - if you were so inclined you could simply sign off your name and put the blank ballot papers straight into the box and nothing would be said.

As a side note: People must dislike the Australian Electoral Commission vote counters because it's not like a politician is ever going to see the penises and expletives they marked their ballots with.

As a vote counter I can assure you that during the long and tedious process of counting votes, the pictures of penises and swear words give us a chuckle and lift our spirits.

Re:Compulsory voting in AU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794587)

It's my understanding that voting is compulsory in AU. When you vote, must you mark your ballot?

Given that not everyone is interested in voting, would it not make sense to simply mark the ballot the easiest way possible (i.e., from the top)?

Actually voting is not compulsory in AU. Turning up and getting your name crossed off the register is compulsory.

After that, you can put a blank sheet in the ballot box, write vote 1 mickey mouse or whatever you want.

I preferenced them highly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794535)

What better way to block the Liberal's plan for internet censorship http://www.zdnet.com/au/australian-opposition-vows-to-implement-internet-filter-by-default-7000020270/ than to get a libertarian with the balance of power into the senate? Can't exactly trust Labour as they tried the same shit with Conroy and chasing Family First preferences.

Also a truther elected (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44794545)

One of the "motoring enthusiasts" who is now in a row over footage of him in a kangaroo poo fight is also a 9/11 truther, apparently:

''Media is reporting that the person who ordfered [sic] the 911 terror attacks is dead what a load of shit, george bush is still alive!''

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2013/detours-ahead-as-minor-parties-claim-senate-balance-20130908-2te36.html [smh.com.au]

alrighty then (4, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44794645)

If anyone was looking for evidence that straight ticket (aka party line) voters aren't so bright, here it is.
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