31 July 2010

What is a donkey vote? (Keeping your member "local" part four)

Well the candidates are all in as far as both the House of Representatives and Senate are concerned. I will do a post in the future on voting for the Senate, but at the moment I'm looking closely at how to get a local candidate into the House of Reps.

And although this series looks at the electorate of Jagajaga specifically, I hope that those of you who live in the rest of Australia can get something out of it.

First of all, it's interesting, but I thought that there would be more candidates for Jagajaga. I thought maybe the CEC might field a candidate. And that maybe there might be an independent or two.

But it does appear that as far as Jagajaga goes, all the candidates are going to be representing political parties.

The draw for the spots is very important: Anecdotal evidence suggests that the all important donkey vote makes up a large portion of votes received. But what is a "donkey vote"? And how much impact does it actually have?

I would never in as million years suggest that you do this without good reason. A donkey vote is where you number down the ballot paper from top to bottom. It would stand to reason that this might be used by a number of voters: Disenfranchised or dissillusioned voters, ignorant voters, illiterate voters and possibly even a core of voters who wrongly see this as a protest vote.

But there is another core of voters who might use the donkey vote - these are those voters who actually do want to vote from top to bottom because that is the order of their preferences.

It should be noted that a lot of Australians erroneously refer to good old ordinary informal voting as "donkey voting". This is incorrect, but I'm happy for them to have that opinion as donkey voting arguably skews the vote. Informal votes, thankfully, do not.

I can tell you right now, a donkey vote won't be the order of mine in Jagajaga. Let's look at the candidates in order, starting from the all-important number one spot:

Joe Sgarlata, Family First

Truthfully? Family First, or "Fundies First" as most people I know call them, are extreme religious ECP* zealots for whom nothing short of total theocracy will be acceptable. The history of religious creeps getting together and ruining for office around the world is a long one as indicated in this document that a Facebook friend of mine sent to me today.

On the other hand, there are Christians around for whom religiousness isn't enough and these (normally religious moderates) will take the time to consider candidates in a balanced fashion. It's unlikely that religious moderates will consider extreme kooks such as Family First when casting their vote and this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, forwarded to me by the same Facebook friend appears to back me up on this.

Nevertheless, I'm quite surprised that Family First put up a candidate out here in Jagajaga. I would have expected them to focus their efforts on the bible belt of Victoria and not bother with a backwater like Jagajaga. The bible belt of Victoria, last I checked, seemed to be located in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne and the La Trobe Valley.

It is expected, although by no means assured, that this time around, FF will direct their preferences at the Liberal Party. This could be quite valuable for the local Libs candidates.

Being as disgusted as I am with Family First's platform will prevent me from bothering to ask Sgarlata about his community involvement in Jagajaga. In fact, I am grateful to the CEC for not fielding a candidate - it saves me from having to decide who will go last on my ballot paper.

Jenny Macklin, Australian Labor Party

I have discussed at length my efforts to date in finding out what Macklin has done for Jagajaga. While I await that, I should clarify my issues with the ALP's platform.

The leader of the ALP is the current PM, Julia Gillard. Gillard has seriously drawn some disrespect from me for pandering to the racial vote with her stand on boat-people, and the intent on getting the internet filter through will be the main breaker for me on an ALP vote.

Having said that, it's possible that Macklin has added to Jagajaga during the last term, so the jury is out on her at this point. Sadly, Labor voters will not care about this, and the fact that she is a federal minister might just increase her primary vote.

Joh Bauch, Liberal

Bauch has,I suspect, been parachuted in by the Libs to face what would be, for a Liberal candidate, a hostile electorate.

The Libs have really not presented well to date during this election campaign. The electorate is suspicious about WorkChoices coming back and to be honest, leader Tony Abbott hasn't done a great job of defusing this issue. They've also been silent on a few things.

And now a note to those thinking of voting Liberal on the basis of Labor's proposed internet filter. The Libs have been silent on this. One of the things that should be noted is that as a possible future government of Australia, it is in the interests of the Libs to see this measure get up. I very much doubt that the Libs would counteract a measure that gives them power over what Australian internet users see.

Anyway, if I find out that Bauch isn't local, I will be putting him very low down my preferences. Any political party that treats this constituency with that sort of contempt deserves to be paid back in kind.

Chris Kearney, Australian Greens

I have to be honest: I tend to sympathise with the Greens these days more than any of the other political parties.

In addition, as I outlined in my previous post, Kearney appears to have runs on the board as a local.

So far, the stand out candidate in this electorate.

Peter Harris, Secular Party of Australia

I am thrilled to bits that we will have a large-s Secularist running in Jagajaga. I don't think you need me to explain why I support their platform.

But I will be sending the same copy of my letter to Harris as I did to Bauch and Kearney. I will, as I'm sure you also understand, be considering any sort of non-localism unfavourably when it comes to considering my vote in this election.

Ideally, I'd like to put Harris at number one. But I won't be doing that if it turns out that he's also a skydiver.

So how would a donkey vote look in Jagajaga? It would look like this:

(1) Sgarlata
(2) Macklin
(3) Bauch
(4) Kearney
(5) Harris

And without having heard back from any of the candidates, I can assure you that right now, I do not recommend a donkey vote in Jagajaga.

I will start to look at the Senate soon.

*ECP = Evangelical/Charismatic/Pentecostal. Yes I know that the Anglican Church has their own internal definition of "evangelical" but could you use the one that the rest of the world uses for once, please?

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