Voting in Australian culture and the 2016 election
by Tony Shields and Rod Campbell

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.

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