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Dear Americans

I have a very special favour to ask of the Americans out there that might be reading this. I know, I know, it's hardly my place, but I'm going to ask anyways.

I hear you have a presidential election coming up on November 4th this year. Well, actually, I know that you do. I know, because as a US-citizen living outside of the US, I've already voted in it. What I'd ask of you is simple: please, please, please vote.

It's not my place to suggest who you vote for, and frankly, I wouldn't want to do that anyway. It's your vote, it's your say, and it's you opinion. All I ask is that you actually go and vote, even if you don't think your vote is going to make any difference.

In Australia, voting for the Prime Minister is manditory*. This used to annoy me, because I usually don't give much of a damn about politics, and it seemed like such an inconvenience for me to go, wait in line, prove who I am, tick a box, and put a slip of paper in a box. But I sat down and thought about it, and realised that the thing with manditory voting is that it forces everyone to at least tick a box (even if they chose to do it wrong and invalidate their vote).

That means that the whole population of Australia has a say - especially the people who don't really care either way. That means that it's not just the extremists - from any political leaning - who have a say in how the country ends up being run. Because everyone in a country should have a say in how it is run, not just people with extreme points of view.

I know that people are going to yell at me about this post, telling me that what I've said above is wrong and that I'm ignorant and that I should keep these kinds of ideas to myself. I'll freely admit right here and now that I'm probably wrong, and that this is only my opinion, so you don't need to denegrate me for saying what I feel.

Just please... if you are an American citizen... please vote. It's kind of important.

* EDIT care of dalziel_86: We vote for a local member of parliament, an MP. The party that can get a majority of MPs gets to form government, and the leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. Parties choose their leaders from among the members who've been elected as MPs.

We don't have an executive, though as a technical formality, the Governor-General represents the Queen as executive. The Governor-General is picked by the Prime Minister. The one and only time the Governor-General has ever exercised their power, it caused a huge uproar and a constitutional crisis. So, yeah, we pretty much don't have an executive.

Comments

( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
kowari
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
*points up*
Wot She Sed.
umbra_mentis
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
I'll admit that I find mandatory voting a pain in the ass. I hate lining up in the endless queues. I want to take a nerf bat to all the people who keep shoving pamphlets at me or tell me completely out-of-proportion and farcical tales to try and buy my vote. As a general rule I think anyone who wants power shouldn't have it.

But...being required by law to check a few boxes has forced me to become more aware of politics and the roll-on effects of my choices. It's made me look into the various issues and the stand that those courting my pen have taken. And there are so many people in the world who would envy us the ability to vote without oppression, violence and coercion.

Mandatory voting is certainly not my favourite way to spend a Saturday morning but I'm so lucky that I'm living in a country where I can make my voice heard. Voting is a privilege and I'll fight anyone who tries to take it off me.

Edited at 2008-10-28 03:44 am (UTC)
slarnos
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)
People seriously do that when you're standing in line at polling places? I've never thought about the laws in the US prohibiting electioneering at polling places as anything more than prominently posted pieces of paper. Now, I am eternally thankful that they exist.
miss_rynn
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
Well, they can't give you any pamphlets or hassle you once you are on the premesis where the voting takes place... but as you walk to said premesis, right up to the gate, or even if you're forced to wait outside the gate because the line is too long, then yes.
(no subject) - the_ether - Oct. 28th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC) - Expand
umbra_mentis
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:57 am (UTC)
It's generally not too bad but I've had some really persistent ones try to convince me that the 'wrong' choice is going to earmark me for hell *rolls eyes*
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kowari - Oct. 28th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC) - Expand
paradigmshifty
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:51 am (UTC)
I'll disagree with only one thing you say there. Voting isn't a privilege - it's a right. One that is denied to many.
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 03:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paradigmshifty - Oct. 28th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC) - Expand
kitling
Oct. 28th, 2008 11:08 am (UTC)
As someone who has volunteered to spend my time handing out 'how to vote Green' pamplets - trust me, its a really interesting experience.

When I've done it, I've never seen any of the pamphlet people be rude, always offer the pamphlet, if people don't take it, leave it at that. The people handing out the pamplets have generally been nice sociable people volunteering for a cause they believe it, regardless of which party.

That said - I've seen a massive range of reactions from the general public. Brunswick is a blue ribbon Labour seat, Green's go across fairly well to. But I've seen random stranger give a shit load of abuse at the Liberal or Family First volunteer for daring to offer them a pamphlet. I suspect my experience would be different in a suburb with a different voting demographic.

But yeah, I've seen way more of the general public be rude, than the electioneers.

Its also a really interesting exercise in sociological analysis.

There are very firm laws governing polling places and electioneering. If you genuinely think you have been unreasonably hassled by someone handing out pamphlet - complain to a worker in the election booth and they will be removed from the area.
(no subject) - umbra_mentis - Oct. 28th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC) - Expand
iosef
Oct. 28th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
You can, in Australia, register for permanent postal voting: they send you your ballots, and send them back in the envelopes provided. No queues and no gauntlet of how-to-votes.
paradigmshifty
Oct. 28th, 2008 03:49 am (UTC)
Why should giving a damn about things be considered wrong?

It took me a long time to realise this myself, but if you don't participate then you have no right to complain about the result. You can complain about the process, but that's another topic entirely.

Generations in the US (and here and elsewhere) fought for the right to even have a vote - women and blacks in particular. It's something worth having, fighting and suffering for.

dalziel_86
Oct. 28th, 2008 04:11 am (UTC)
I'm going to nitpickingly point out that we don't vote for the Prime Minister here in Australia. :)
paradigmshifty
Oct. 28th, 2008 04:12 am (UTC)
Shhh. She's explaining to Americans :-)
miss_rynn
Oct. 28th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
Well, that's true, we don't... but if you'd rather explain how our politics work to the USicans, be my guest :)
(no subject) - dalziel_86 - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thorfinn - Oct. 28th, 2008 05:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nicked_metal - Oct. 28th, 2008 11:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slarnos - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miss_rynn - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
slarnos
Oct. 28th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
Well, obviously.

One doesn't vote for Prime Ministers - you vote for members of parliament and the majority party picks their Prime Minister.

At least, that's the case if Australia is like any other Parliamentary government I've ever studied.
(no subject) - dalziel_86 - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - slarnos - Oct. 28th, 2008 04:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - infidelpants - Oct. 28th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
slarnos
Oct. 28th, 2008 04:18 am (UTC)
Thank you for saying this. I think this point gets lost in all the media overexposure.
tarleon
Oct. 28th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Technicalities.
Technically we do have an Executive. Its just intrinsically linked with the Legislative due through our political system due to our adherence to the English system of Responsible Government.

I mean, yeah, we have a weaker form of Separation of Powers than the US does, but there are technically still elements of it there.

Sorry, been doing too much Constitutional type law this semester.
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )