This post is part of a series
We’ve reached the end (just as well, these posts were taking ages to write!) I hope they’ve been helpful for you as you’ve thought through the best way to vote this election. No Policy Area for your consideration today. I hope by now you’ve all come to some resolution about how you are going to vote in the lower and the upper houses. Today is really a rounding off.
What does being a Christian in a democracy look like beyond Saturday?
Election Principle 6 – You don’t just vote
Over the last several posts I’ve outlined a series of principles to help you wisely vote this election. But in my last post in this series I want to suggest that voting isn’t enough.
“*groan* I knew it – he want’s me to be political…” Yep, but not how you mean.
One of my presuppositions in writing this series has been the belief that life is political. Any time you choose on thing over another and that choice affects someone else you’re being political.
Now some of you may well have decided this election to join a political party. That’s a great way to get involved in the process but I want to pitch a bit lower than that. How can the average person get involved in the process of governing beyond voting?
Here’s a few ways I have been involved in the past.
– Send your local Member of Parliament (MP) a letter, or have a meeting with them. This is not as scary as it sounds. You might have a particular interest in an issue (Australia’s deployment in Afghanistan, nutritional food labelling, paid maternity leave, housing affordability, student income support, care for veterans). Write your local MP an email and mention at the bottom that you’d be happy to discuss the matter further with them. You don’t have to be completely across the issue, all you need to do is show up, have a cup of tea and tell them your story.
In the minds of an MP, every 1 person who they meet with on a particular issue equals 500 people in their electorate with the same sentiment. If enough people express the same sentiment then the MP will listen.
– Participate in a Senate inquiry. Again, not as scary as it sounds. One of the most important jobs of the Senate is to consider how policy will effect people. They organise themselves into committees and these committees hold inquiries. All kinds of organisations and individuals participate in these inquiries. On the Senate website there’s a list of inquiries which are happening right now. If you have an opinion, a word of testimony about how a particular piece of legislation will impact on you or your community, or a bright idea for how things could be done better then all you need to do is write a 1 pager.
Senators love personal stories because their reports then have a human touch, which can be a powerful way to turn the opinion of others. I’ve participated in several such inquiries and ended up in the printed reports as well.
A few more thoughts:
– Don’t participate in facebook petitions. FB petitions are not real petitions. They don’t achieve anything because the decision makers never see them. Only participate in petitions that are addressed to the parliament or to individual MPs and are going to be taken to them.
– If you feel strongly enough about an issue to sign a [real] petition, consider writing a letter as well. It’ll take you ½ an hour but it might just lead to real change.
– Pray regularly for your leaders. Their job is really tough. They have to balance the needs of many, many people. They have the same internal pressures to think from self interest that we do. Pray for them.
This Election101 – Votiquette
So… Guess I left this a little too last minute! Clearly not enough time to get answers to questions. Anyway… Thanks to Milli and Jonathan who offered the following answers. How about for the next election I’ll work on Votiquette properly and get it together earlier on.
“From the aec website, answers 3 of your qns:
What can I do if I make a mistake on my ballot paper?
If you have made a mistake on your ballot paper you should return it to the polling official who issued it to you originally and ask for a new ballot paper. You will be given a fresh ballot paper, but only after handing back the one you have made a mistake on.
Why do they supply pencils in polling booths and not pens? Doesn’t using pencils allow votes to be tampered with?
The provision of pencils in polling booths is a requirement of section 206 of the Electoral Act. There is, however nothing to prevent an elector from marking his or her ballot paper with a pen if they so wish. (This answers the Qn about bringing your own lucky pen)
My relative or friend requires assistance to vote. Am I allowed to assist them?
If an elector requires assistance, they are able to choose the person who assists them, whether they vote at a polling place or are having a postal vote.”
Thanks for the info, Milli (and AEC).
“On the question ‘Can I wear political clothing?’
Yes. Yes you can. Although it potentially broadcasts your intentions. Unless of course you are wearing political clothing affiliated with a party or organisation for whom you would never vote as some kind of subterfuge.
To answer a question with a question, why would you?
A question that perhaps should have featured here is “Following the election, will the sun still rise in the morning?” To which my natural response is, wouldn’t it be great if Christ returned before then. Although the answer is almost certainly, come what may the sun will rise until the return of the risen Son.”
Guys, remember to number all the boxes. If you make a mistake, don’t freak out and don’t throw your paper away, just take your paper back to the lovely polling officer and they’ll give you a new one.
Happy voting! Please pray for those standing, those working for the AEC and for those voting.
I’ll be back next week to offer some thoughts on the wash up.