Sunday, November 26, 2006

supporting an electrion campaign

Yesterday I handed out "how to vote" cards for the Greens at the state election. It did seem to be a significant waste to have so much paper produced. Slightly more than half the voters who visited my polling booth took cards from all parties, which was obviously of little use. There is some useful information to be gained from reading the cards from all parties, but nothing that you can analyse during the short period spent waiting in line. I expect that most people decide who to vote for before they get anywhere near the polling booth and just accept the cards because they feel that it may be rude to reject them. While ironically some people who didn't like the Greens refused to accept a card from me and told me that they didn't want it with the impression that they would offend me, I'd rather save the trees and not give cards to people who don't want to use them...

I spoke to a representative of the Family First party who tried to convince me that the Greens should be against homosexuality because the Greens are "against unnatural things", he also claimed that people who choose not to have children (being gay is apparently choosing not to have children) are selfish - unless of course they are a celibate priest. He also managed to offend a supporter of the ALP in two different ways which led to an amusing heated debate and then left before I could have any more fun. For the reference of other Family First people, I've pasted in the dictionary definitions of "homo" and "hetero", when used as prefixes those Greek derived words mean "like attracting like" and "opposites attract". An example of such usage is the term "homo-charged electrets" used in electronics.

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Hetero- \Het"er*o-\ [Gr. "e`teros other.]
A combining form signifying other, other than usual,
different; as, heteroclite, heterodox, heterogamous.
[1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Homo- \Ho"mo-\
A combining form from Gr. "omo`s, one and the same, common,
[1913 Webster]

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) [bouvier]:
HOMO. This Latin word, in its most enlarged sense, includes both man and
woman. 2 Inst. 45. Vide Man.

The ALP (usually known as Labor) supporters had unfortunately believed the lies of their own apparatchiks. They were convinced that the Greens were directing preferences to the Liberal party, even though in most districts the Greens actually directed preferences to the ALP! The only exceptions were a small number of districts with split preferences (favoring neither Liberal nor ALP). It continually amazes me that while helping the ALP they were attacking us! Once I showed the ALP supporters the cards I was distributing they became quite friendly, as the Greens had a very low chance of winning the lower house in the districts for the polling place in question the preferences would go to the ALP.

It was interesting to talk to a Liberal supporter, he supports the workplace reforms implemented by the Federal government (Liberal) because he was hired for his current job because his employer can easily get rid of him if the business has a down-turn. It is hard to argue with someone who has only got a job because of the policy in question, but I did point out that continuity of employment is a major factor when applying for a mortgage. I recently bought a house and had a significant amount of hassle from the banks due to the fact that I work as a contractor. I had previously enquired about borrowing twice as much money while at my last permanent position and had much fewer problems from the banks.

I mentioned some of the other bad things the Liberal government has done (such as invading Iraq for no good cause), but the Liberal supporter was too sensible to comment on any of the issues where he would only lose. This however left him with not very much to say.

Most of the work of handing out the cards was quite boring and very tiring. Fortunately a friend decided to visit and help out so there were three people handing out Greens cards instead of the scheduled two which made it easier work. The ALP apparently had four people which seems to be an optimal number as there were voters arriving from two directions and no matter where they came from at least two ALP supporters would be able to intercept them.

Surprisingly the work was easier at the most busy times. When the queue stretched out into the street I could stoll along the queue and give the cards to the voters. When the queue disappeared later in the day the voters were walking past at high speed and I had to move quickly to get to them.

Now it's time to start planning for the next Federal election.


Anonymous said...

Why does one use "how to vote" cards in Australia? I understand that it's a preferential ballot, but if a voter supports the Greens first and the ALP second, then why can't they vote that way without a written guide?

The only way that I see this being useful is as a formal way for the Greens to show their sympathy to the ALP; but it seems like an excessive way to do so.

-- MG

etbe said...

Sure, someone can put 1 for the Greens and 2 for ALP, etc if they wish. However that isn't the Green ticket.

The Green how to vote cards have Greens as 1, then parties with similar policies numbered next, then ALP and Liberal in an order that matches the policies of those parties at the time (and possibly any preference deals), then finally parties that directly oppose Green policies (such as Family First).

While a voter can easily decide to vote 1 for the Greens and then decide which order to put Liberal and ALP, they might not be able to recognise parties with similar policies to the Greens and parties that oppose the things that the Greens stand for. The how to vote cards help in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I understand better. In my own country, Canada, there are a number of minor parties that run in elections (Marxist-Leninists and Communists, e.g.), but no one pays them much attention. In Australian politics, minor parties are taken more seriously. Even if they have little chance of election, their policies may make them logical alternatives.

-- MG

Revi said...

How to vote cards are mostly for the politically unmotivated. Everyone over 18 is required to vote (kinda*) and many of these people only really pay attension to what the major parties (Labor and Liberal \ National) are doing. If you turn up and only know that you're going to vote labor then you can use their how to vote cards to avoid thinking.

* No one can force you to physically vote legitimately. You just have to turn up or pay the $50 fine.

The greens almost got a seat and congrats to them for that. Their how to vote card said that if you like us put your next preference to this cndidate and your last one to the Christian Fundamentalist Party (Family First).

The upper house is a bit different because you can just choose to let your party vote for you by numbering an appropriate box.