Democracy and the downside of family

The really annoying thing about your family is that you’re stuck with them for life. You didn’t get to choose them but you do have to live with them. No offence but I wouldn’t want to be related to Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott. It’s nothing personal; they seem like decent people, I just wouldn’t want to be related to them. Thankfully they’re my politicians not my cousins, which means that if I don’t like what they’re saying or doing, I’m not stuck with them forever. I can vote and try to change my government, which is more than I can say for my cousins (no offence guys).

So why do I get nervous every time I vote? I always know who I want to vote for but as I stand in the voting booth I get a total mental blank. I completely and utterly forget how to vote. It has happened to me in every election I have voted in since I turned 18 many, many years ago. I was raised in Australia. I have lived here, studied here and voted here for a long time. I think most people assume I know what I’m doing when I go down to the voting booth.

Thankfully there are instructions outside the booth and inside the booth for the last minute panickers like me. At every election, I stand inside the booth, I re-read the instructions, I take a deep breath and then I number the box I want. I tell myself to remember next time, there’s absolutely nothing to panic about. It’s confusing but once you re-read the instructions, it’s actually quite easy and it’s very important.

There are countries in the world where people don’t have the right to vote. There are countries that don’t have any elections ever. There are countries that after years of war are finally having their elections for the first time. And there are countries that have elections but people are afraid to vote, they have no faith in the integrity of the process.

On Election Day, Australian citizens line up to vote.  They feel safe, they feel respected and they feel heard. They have a voice, and every time they vote, they use it.

If you have recently become an Australian citizen, please enrol to vote. You need to get on the roll. Click on to the Australian Electoral Commission’s site below – there is a form you need to fill out (there is always a form isn’t there). There are also language and interpretation services if you need extra help (PH: 1300 720 153).

[This post has been kindly sponsored by the AEC. Every word is mine – I really don’t want to be related to Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott and voting is an important privilege, right and obligation of citizenship.]