Australia boosts voter turnout

Australia boosts voter turnout
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Australian voters check in and cast their ballots in a September 2019 federal election. Australian Electoral Commission

Summary

Title: “What US election officials could learn from Australia about boosting voter turnout
AuthorSteven Mulroy
Source: The Conversation
Date: Jan. 14, 2020

Not every country is plagued by rules that limit voters’ participation in elections, as is common in the United States.

In the past five years, restrictions on voting and voter registration purges have limited the number of Americans eligible to cast ballots.

In addition, the U.S. is the only major democracy that still allows politicians to draw their own district lines, an often-criticized conflict of interest in which public officials essentially pick their voters, rather than the voters picking their officials. That computer-aided gerrymandering of electoral districts reduces the number of districts with competitive races, contributing to low voter turnout.

Perhaps the fundamental problem, though, is that the system yields results the people don’t actually want. Twice in the last two decades, U.S. voters chose a president, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, who got fewer votes than his rival, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

All these problems are avoidable and don’t happen in countries that have different voting laws. Perhaps the best example is Australia, a country which is culturally, demographically and socioeconomically similar to the U.S. In my book “Rethinking U.S. Election Law,” written while I lived and studied their system Down Under, I outline many of the ways Australia has solved voting quandaries that persist in the U.S.

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