Voting and electoral participation are part of Australia’s culture, expressed through our long history of electoral reform as well as modern trends such as the social media tag #democracysausage. Ensuring that everyone’s vote is counted is consistent with our ethos that everyone gets a “fair go”.
Australia has among the highest electoral participation rates in the world, while electoral turnout has been falling for decades internationally. In Australia, a decline is apparent from the 2010 election – from an average of 95% turnout for the previous 85 years to 91%, a fall of 4 percentage points. In the rest of the OECD, turnout rates have fallen by some 17 percentage points since the 1960s.
We should still be concerned. The 91% turnout rate in the 2016 federal election was the lowest recorded since compulsory voting in federal elections was introduced in 1924.