An Election in Australia|Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)|KnowLedge World Network|Activities|KNOWLEDGE CAPITAL

  • 2020.04.17
  • An Election in Australia
In Australia, an election is held to select local governments (mayors and councillors) once every four years. An election was held in my home state of Queensland this year to decide on councillors for a total of 77 councils, plus the mayor of the City of Gold Coast. Australia's electoral turnout actually ranks among the highest in the world and is the top turnout of Western countries. The reason is that Australia has a compulsory voting system, so all Australians over the age of 18 are obligated to vote. If you don't vote, you get a fine. The amount varies from state to state, but in Queensland it’s $133.45 (approximately 9,300 Japanese yen). People end up going to the polls because they don't want to pay the big fine, so the turnout is over 90%. Posters with photos of candidates were put up all over town before this election too. Candidates visited polling booths on election day to hand out their flyers and greet voters, which reminded me of my experience handing out flyers at a polling booth to help a friend who stood for election four years ago. There were people helping other candidates near the booth, so there were lots of supporters handing out flyers and calling out "Vote for [candidate]" along the lead up to the booth and near the entrance. There was a crowd of candidates’ supporters outside the polling booth, so I thought because they’re also rivals, the atmosphere must also be tense, but there is a typically Australian approach to this too. In between handing out flyers, the supporters of the different candidates chatted casually, just doing what they could, not caring particularly that they were rivals. It really was just like that when I helped out, and an older woman supporting a different candidate even came over to talk with me and gave me some candy, so the whole thing was friendly. With this election, I had the opportunity to go to an early voting booth, so I found out how things proceed up to voting. The booth was handling early voting for a number of divisions, and the divisions were organized by number: Division 1, 2, 3, and so on. You must vote for the candidates running in the division where you live, even if there are others you really want to vote for. You enter the polling booth, go to the issuing officer table, and hand over a card that you get in the mail beforehand. The issuing officer reads the barcode on the card and gives you your ballot papers. You fill out the ballot papers at a voting booth that has partitions so you can't see the person’s ballot papers next to you. I discovered that the row of voting booths was actually made of cardboard. The way you vote is also different. Instead of choosing the one person that you want elected, you have to rank them in the order of your preference, from one then two and three. If there are eight candidates, you have to number them from one to eight. If you don't number everyone, your vote is invalid. It's easy to select just one person, but when it comes to ranking everyone, it's questionable how much voters actually know about all the candidates as they number them. Back when I didn't know how this system works, “VOTE 1” was beside the name of the candidate on all their posters, so I wondered, how can everyone be number one? Then you put your completed ballot papers in a ballot box in the middle of the polling booth. I went to a polling booth behind a big shopping center for this election. It was a major polling booth that lots of people went to and the sitting mayor of the City of Gold Coast was there to promote himself that day because he was running at this election. Apparently, they accept votes by post as well as early voting. The Queensland Government posts details on a website about postal voting, early voting booths, and election day polling booths. With its high voter turnout, I think candidates in Australia must get really fired up. But I’m a little uneasy about the way people decide on who to vote for, seeing as the compulsory voting system means you vote from the age of 18. When I was helping out with that election handing out leaflets, a young boy said to me, "I like green, so I'm going to vote for this guy!" The leaflet I handed him was green. I was glad he voted for my friend, but really? For that reason? I felt a little deflated. Maybe compulsory voting systems have their minuses as well as their plusses.



The card sent by mail before the election. You bring this card with you when you vote.


You fill out your ballot papers at this booth. It’s made of cardboard but is quite sturdy.


You fill out your ballot papers at this booth. It’s made of cardboard but is quite sturdy.

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  • Chieko Suganuma (maiden name : Nagura)
  • AgeCow( USHI )
  • GenderFemale
  • JobCompany employee

She moved to Australia in 2000. She worked for a Japanese-affiliated travel agency, and then started her current position at a construction company in 2014.On her days off, she enjoys making soy candles that is a hobby of mine and walking on the beach.She hope to share rare lifestyle information from the local area with you.

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