Saturday April 4, 2009
Mumble posted re the AEC and putting Australian electoral practices and standards into comparative perspective.
My $0.02. Australia looks good internationally with respect to election administration largely because of our long-standing embrace of compulsory voting, and a reasonably solid bipartisan consensus supporting that (the Howard government’s funny buggers with respect to enrollment requirements notwithstanding). Once you have CV on the books, and both sides of politics take it fairly seriously, then you have to administer the rolls, run elections, fine non-compliers etc, and then a body charged with election administration has to be created.
In short, if the state wants to make something compulsory, then it has to make compliance easy, and that is essentially one of the chief things the AEC does, and does pretty well (with the noted exception of enrollment).
Oh, and it would be nice if I could continue to vote even when living outside of Australia for an extended period (say what you want about the Americans, but they don’t disenfrachise their expatriate population).
The other thing is the nationalization of election administration in Australia, something that the Americans have never figured out in their particular version of federalism. It is entirely possible that Australia’s version of federalism could have left it to the state parliaments to run Commonwealth elections (a la America), and who knows how that might have played out (with or without CV). That never happened in Australia, leaving the way open for CV to be imposed nationally via Commonwealth legislation, and for the creation and evolution of a professional body like the AEO (later, the AEC).