You’ve enrolled to vote. Congratulations, great job - but thats only half the battle. Now you need to ensure you turn up on the day and actually cast a vote. Thing is, many of us don’t do it.
Here’s 7 inspiring facts that you need to know that counter the key reasons for not voting.
1. Our voices count and politicians can be made to listen
Evidence shows us that young people will determine the outcome of this election if they turn up on election day. A 2013 study from the Whitlam Institute found that “a major shift in the youth vote will be sufficient to change an election outcome.”
Here at Y Vote, we calculated that about 800,000 people under 30 either didn’t enrol to vote, didn’t rock up or didn’t vote properly at the last election. Considering the 2010 election was decided by about 30,000 votes spread across a few key marginal seats, those 800,000 people could have easily decided who got the keys to the Lodge….and who gets them in a little over one month’s time.
If we all voted and had this kind of collective influence, politicians across the spectrum would be more inclined to represent our views and fight harder for our vote.
Even though some politicians don’t always care about what young people believe in or value, they do care about their jobs - 100% of the time, every time. The minute it looks like young people will vote against them, politicians will respond by appealing to the youth vote. It’s really just a numbers game - but for our numbers to count we need to show up on election day.
2. Your vote counts, even if you live in a safe seat ('cause, senators)
Even if you live in a safe seat your vote still affects the outcome in the Senate, which has the power to block legislation passed in the House of Representatives. Recently, it was the Senate that stopped the Abbott Government from deregulating tertiary education and potentially increasing the cost of some university degrees to $100,000. In the past, it was the Senate that killed the Whitlam Government by refusing to fund its reform agenda. So your vote is still very influential in this way.
Amplifying this is the fact that this election is very unique in that all of the Senate seats are up for grabs. Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to call a double dissolution election massively increased the chances of winning a spot in the Senate for smaller political parties. In this election, the quota required to win a Senate seat has been halved from about 15% to 7.69% of the vote. For this reason, a number of smaller parties that are usually the ‘also rans’ are suddenly real contenders. Key states to watch are Queensland, where Pauline Hanson and Glenn Lazarus are in for a shot, Tasmania, where Jacqui Lambie hopes to retain her seat, and South Australia, where the Nick Xenophon Team are set to shake things up.
Love her or hate her, the chance to decide whether Pauline Hanson has a political career should motivate everyone to vote.
3. YOUR VOTE COUNTS, EVEN IF YOU LIVE IN A SAFE SEAT (+$$$)
If you live in a safe seat and don’t vote because the party you support isn’t going to be elected, then you’re effectively depriving them of the cash monies they could use to fund future campaigns.
How? The Australian Electoral Commission distributes $2.50 in campaign funding for every vote received by candidates who get more than 4% of the primary vote. The number of votes a party or candidate receives therefore dictates how much money they have to spend on subsequent elections, which determines their prospect of winning in the future. As such, if you want your party to have a bigger war chest to fight future campaigns, it is vital that you vote for them now.
4. Your vote counts even if you live in a safe seat (in case #2 and #3 aint enough)
Don’t listen to what your friends tell you - recent elections have shown the concept of a safe seat is increasingly a thing of the past.
In the 2015 NSW State election, for example, the previously secure National Party seats of Ballina and Lismore witnessed massive swings away from the incumbents towards the Greens. While the sitting member for Lismore managed to hold onto his seat, a Greens representative went on to win Ballina for the first time in the electorate’s history. At the same election, the Greens also won a seat in the newly created division of Newtown, a previously safe Labor area, and managed to re-elect a candidate in the electorate of Balmain, the birthplace of the NSW Labor Party.
Similar results have been replicated across the country. In the 2011 Queensland State election, the LNP Government was elected after winning safe Labor seats. Labor replaced the LNP only one term later by winning back those very same seats. In the 2013 Federal Election, Sophie Mirabella was defeated by an independent called Cathy McGowan, whose highly effective grassroots campaign unseated one of the most powerful and high profile members of the Liberal Party at the time. Perhaps the best example is provided by Australia’s second longest ever serving Prime Minister, John Howard, who lost his seat in 2007 after representing the people of Bennelong for thirty years.
These examples reveal that safe seats are a thing of the past. Politicians simply cannot take their electorate for granted, at least not anymore, with potential challengers emerging from the most unlikely of places - including Australian Idol?
As of this week, former Idol host James Mathison will be taking on Tony Abbott in Warringah (considered a very safe seat). It’s set to be a showdown to rival the 2003 finale between Shannon Noll and that other bloke.
5. One vote Can, and has, made a difference
This election is going to be close. The polls show Labor and the Coalition are neck and neck, the Greens look like they could take seats off both major parties and the minor parties are punching above their weight right across the country. A small number of votes in each seat will therefore be hugely influential in determining the final outcome. If history is anything to go by, even one vote could make a big difference. In the 1919 Federal Election, the Nationalist Party defeated Labor in Ballarat by just one vote. At the 2013 Federal Election, the big daddy of Australian politics Clive Palmer won his seat of Fairfax by just 53 votes (imagine if we’d missed out on the Clive phenomenon). Given how tight things are this time around, history could repeat itself this election, with one vote potentially making all the difference.
The prize could go either way…..
6. it's about the issues you care about. It affects your life.
Unlike some past elections, this election really is about issues that affect young people. As voters, we are faced with competing visions about how Australia should deal with climate change, negative gearing, penalty rates, tertiary education and unemployment - amongst many, many more issues. The media has billed the contest as a choice between fairness (Labor) and jobs and growth (the Coalition). But the subtext underpinning many of these issues is intergenerational equity - that is, whether or not young people get a fair go now and in the future. So this election is not only about issues that affect young people, it is also an opportunity to reward the parties that recognise the value of the youth vote, and punish the candidates who ignore it.
7. It’s easy. you can do it from afar. It's super quick. your dog didn't eat your ballot.
Voting is surprisingly easy. The election will be held on Saturday 2 July between 8 am and 6 pm. all you need to do is attend a local polling place, which is normally located in a school, church hall or public building, and cast your vote.
You can also vote early at polling places if you can’t vote on the day. In the 2013 Federal election, 2.5 millions Australians voted this way - so vote early if you can’t make the Saturday.
If you are interstate, you can vote at interstate voting centres. If you’re overseas, you can cast a postal vote. If you’re vision impaired, you can cast a vote over the telephone or by post with assistance at any polling place. In certain circumstances, you can vote with the help of mobile polling teams who work in hospitals, prisons and remote areas.
In other words, it’s so easy to vote that you have no excuse not to. Also, you’ll miss out on one of the time honoured Australian traditions of a post-vote sausage sanger....and onions. If you want onions.
But, all of this information doesn’t make choosing who to vote for any easier...
And thats fair enough. It is complicated figuring out which, if any, candidate represents your views.
Over the next few weeks we will break down the policy positions of the key parties and candidates to try and make this decision easier for you. We will also be sharing some tools you can use to help figure out who to vote for. We’ll be posting these to our Facebook and sending them through our mailing list, which you can join by Pledging to Vote below.