Politics One

Fourth edition

by Ian Ward and Randal G. Stewart

Elections and voting behaviour

Quick e-introduction to the electoral system:

Further reading suggestions

Here are some reading suggestions which complement our account of Australia's electoral system
  • Singleton, G., D. Aitkin, B. Jinks, and J. Warhurst. 2009. Australian Political Institutions. 9th edn. (Frenchs Forrrest: Pearson) Ch. 7 provides a helpful overview of the Australian electoral system.
  • Vromen, K.A., Gelber, K. and Gauja, A. 2008. Powerscape: Contemporary Australian politics 2nd edn. (Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin). Chapter 5
  • Costar, B. 2002 ‘The Electoral System’ in D. Woodward, A. Parkin, and J. Summers (eds) Government, Politics, Power and Policy in Australia. 9th edn. (Frenchs Forest NSW: Pearson).

A further note on the study of voting behaviour 
Much of what we know about voting behaviour derives from the findings of Australian Election Studies which have been conducted in association with each federal election since 1987. Ian McAllister and Juliet Clark have compiled Australian Electoral Studies data in a monograph entitled Trends in Australian Political Opinion 1987-2007 which is available online. Readers may also wish to conduct their own analysis of AES data. This can be done using NESSTAR http://assda-nesstar.anu.edu.au/webview/index.jsp 

Discussion point 
Along with a relative small group of other countries including Argentina, Brazil, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Panama and Venezuela, Australia has a system of compulsory voting. 

What is the case for preserving Australia’s system of compulsory voting? What is the case for voluntary voting? 

In September 2009 the Special Minister of State issued a Green Paper which canvassed a broad range of possible electoral reforms. These varied from a suggestion to lower the voting age to allow 16 and 17 year olds the option of voting to to fining Members who resign their parliamentary seats mid-term and cause unnecessary by-elections. Previously the Rudd Government had proposed a series of specific reforms including a ban on political donations from non-Australian elections and a measure to reverse the Howard’s Government decision to raise the threshold for disclosing donations to political parties to $1,500 to over $10,000.