Has advance voting gone too far?

Not long ago advance voting used to be available for people who were going to be unable to vote on election day.

With no change to electoral law (as far as I’m aware) it has changed markedly. Now all voters are being urged to vote early, for a number of reasonable and also self-interested reasons.

The Electoral Commission is promoting advance voting to try and increase voter turnout. That’s a reasonable aim, but there are some contradictions and serious questions need to be asked.

The Electoral Commission still emphasises strict limits on the use of media and social media on election day. We are supposed to refrain from doing anything that might suggest a party to vote for.

But in the two weeks of advance voting it is open slather, with parties and organisations  using advance voting to push their own interests and push people into voting for them with all advertising blazing.

Supermarket voting

We used to only vote in neutral community based polling booths, and had to make the effort to go and vote.

They now have advance voting booths in universities and shopping malls. People can be enticed by advertising to buy some chocolate at the checkout, then enticed to fix their future through a scratchy or lotto ticket, then punt on the lolly scramble party of choice on their way out.

A candidate can have a political rally at a university (they often do) and urge their audience into the on campus advance voting booth.

Considered votes versus impulse voting

In the not too distant past we had time to consider our options, then make the effort to go to a polling booth on election day like everyone else and cast our choice.

Now people are being pushed into impulse voting.

This could balance out, all parties can beat the election day blackout and get out their vote early.

Pensioners may be as enticed by convenience voting as much as young first time voters. We simply don’t know whether any party is advantaged or disadvantaged by the surge in advance voting.

We are likely to get more uninformed voters taking part, people who largely ignore politics who get enticed into jumping on the advance voting bandwagon.

Are more voters better for democracy?

We have been launched into a very different way of voting without due consideration for the implications.

Shouldn’t more be done to better inform voters (not by parties, they mislead far too much) and encourage them to vote, and then leave it to each of us to make the effort to participate in voting if we want to?

Or is it fine to get as many people on board the voting train regardless.

When will we get drive in voting? Tack a voting booth onto a queue at McDonalds or KFC? People have a few spare minutes to consider if they want a vote with their fries.

If the increase in advance voting continues we should at least look at removing the inconsistency of the election day restrictions.

I could post every day for twelve days pushing people to vote for a particular party or candidate – some blogs do that – but the 13th day is supposed to be a blackout?

That at least should be reconsidered.

Some sort of democratic process could also be considered for changes to the way we vote. Or doesn’t democracy matter any more?

If implemented sensibly online voting could at least be associated with more informed voting.

Leave a comment


  1. Zedd

     /  18th September 2017

    maybe they should just change it to; ‘election week’ ?

    it wont be over ’til the fat lady sings’ (so they say) BUT its sounding like many will have voted before the day, inc. I

  2. My neighbour was bemoaning the fact that apparently some 400,000 people don’t usually vote. I suggested that if they were that disinterested he should perhaps be glad they don’t. How many would, I wonder, do as my daughter suggested and vote Green because it is their favourite colour?

    Thus, I think your concerns about voting at the supermarket checkout are valid. Voting should not be made so easy as to encourage a thoughtless, spur-of-the-moment tick of the nearest box. It is a right that a great many folk throughout the world are ruthlessly denied, so it should not be taken lightly.

  3. NOEL

     /  18th September 2017

    I’m for continuing the blackout on the day.
    Don’t want the crap they have over the ditch where partisan voters get out in force to heckle their opposition going into the voting booth. Bet there is a lot of Aussies who would welcome early voting when you consider its compulsory over there.

  1. Advance voting well ahead | Your NZ

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