New stats reveal that pre-polling in Australian elections is now proving so popular that there has been a sharp increase in early voting compared to the last federal election 2016.
It’s expected that a massive five million people will vote early in this election, resulting in the two major party campaigns adjusting their campaigns to appeal to voters ahead of the actual election date.
It’s felt that more people voting ahead of time reduces the effectiveness of baseless scare campaigns launched in the last week of the campaign, where they can be difficult to combat with facts.
Parties now have to lay out more of their election platform earlier in the campaign, which allows for greater analysis of the issues in the media, and for the parties to test each other’s claims and costings.
For example, we have already seen saw Labor’s new announcements on childcare rebates, pensioner dental care and early childhood workers wage increases the day before pre-polling began.
However, PM Scott Morrison only launched his campaign on the weekend when many voters have already pre polled.
While many feel there is merit in everyone voting on the same day, in possession of the same facts, there is also something to the idea that voters will form a fuller picture of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ platform over the course of three years, with not every last-minute decision being a sound one.
More Aussies pre-polling stretches the resources of candidates, particularly those from minor parties and independents.
This is because to maximise their vote they need to staff booths from the beginning of pre-polling to election day, an exercise beyond the resources of many.
Pre-polling therefore tends to favour the established parties, as they have far greater resources and can mobilise significantly greater numbers.
There is concern among some politicians that three weeks of pre-polling is too long, with Treasurer Josh Frydenburg saying early voting limits members, senators and ministers from campaigning both across their electorates and across the country.
Labor’s Anthony Albanese echoed those comments, as did Kerryn Phelps, who suggested one week was sufficient.
Australia now has the highest proportion of eligible voters on the electoral roll since federation, at 97 per cent.
This is due to the good work of the AEC, and the ability of voters to vote early has helped to achieve this.