Commentary

Are voters moving left?

01 Sep 2017
CREATORS
More young Australians are enrolled to vote than ever before. But will this have the impact Labor and the Greens expect? Peter Brent explains.

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With the Commonwealth electoral roll in its best shape ever, are the Coalition’s worst fears being realised? Back in 2011–12, when the Gillard government was preparing to introduce direct enrolment, the Coalition was ferociously opposed. Direct enrolment would allow the Australian Electoral Commission to update people’s details, and add new voters, using data from other government agencies. At the time, it couldn’t do either without a signed form from the voter; it was only allowed to use that data to take people off the roll — if they moved house, for example, as millions do every year.

The Liberal Party — and shadow special minister of state Bronwyn Bishop in particular — screamed blue murder, claiming direct enrolment would facilitate voter fraud. The argument never made any sense because automation works against attempts to manipulate the roll. In reality, the Coalition was opposed for the same reason Labor and the Greens quite liked the idea: voters who fall off the roll, or don’t get onto it, tend to lean to the left. The most obvious examples are young people, renters, students and those who move around a lot.

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APO URI: http://apo.org.au/node/105041
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