Electronic Conduits to Electoral Inclusion in an Atypical Constituency: The Australian Case

Electronic Conduits to Electoral Inclusion in an Atypical Constituency: The Australian Case

Lisa Hill (University of Adelaide, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-130-8.ch010
OnDemand PDF Download:


Due to compulsory voting, Australia’s turnout rate is among the highest and most socially-even in the industrialised world. Nevertheless, some voters are still left behind on election day. In this chapter we examine the potential for E-technologies to address the problem of political exclusion among some currently excluded groups of voters. We canvas known and suspected patterns of such exclusion and, in some cases, suggest possible reasons for it. We review the capacity for electronic forms of voting and registration to address: Low voting and registration levels among indigenous Australians; declining registration levels among the young; restricted access to the secret ballot caused by disability; informal voting among minority language speakers and people with low literacy and numeracy competence; low voting participation among people who experience difficulty in attending a polling place on election day and low voting participation among the Australian diaspora. We begin by providing some technical background, after which we report briefly on the E-voting state of play in Australia today.
Chapter Preview

An Atypical Constituency

Australia is one of those rare settings where voting is compulsory. The introduction of compulsory voting ‘elevated the status of the franchise from a privilege to a duty’ and thereby encouraged ‘electoral commissions to treat every vote as sacred’ (Orr et al, 2002 p. 389). The advent of compulsory registration and voting triggered the development of many democratic innovations to achieve maximum voting participation (Sawer, 2001 pp. 24-5) and Australia’s State and Federal electoral offices take enormous care to ensure that the vast majority of Australian voters, regardless of contingent status, and obstacles experienced, is included in the voting process (Hill, 2002). In fact Australia’s voting system is one of the most accessible and ‘user friendly’ in the world (Mackerras and McAllister, 1999 p. 223) with minimal opportunity and transacation costs to voters. The net effect is that, despite the persistent disenfranchisement of some potential voters, few systems are able to boast such consistently high and socially-even voter turnout rates (usually around 95% Voting Age Population –VAP).

Australia’s exemplary record on voting inclusion should not, however, be cause for complacency; rather, when almost everyone votes, the exclusion of the non-participating few is greatly magnified and exacerbated. This is especially so where the non-participators in question have a distinct ethnic or socio-demographic profile because their exclusion cannot be discounted as random or anomalous. Neither should it be assumed that such voters will spontaneously begin to vote at some point in the future because, if voting is to become a habit, it should commence as soon as a citizen is enfranchised (Fotos et al. 2002). Further, propensity to vote seems to be partly norm-driven (Hasen, 1996; Hill, 2002) and if non-voting is the norm in any subculture, members may never break the habit. It is therefore important to be pro-active in identifying any technical, practical, or cultural barriers to the establishment of the voting habit among members of social groups where abstention is routine.2 In a rare constituency like Australia’s where voting is a mainstream activity we canvass potential means for embracing those few who remain outside this mainstream.

Specifically, we explore how E-technologies might help to engage some currently excluded groups of voters. It should be stressed that, at this stage, the use of E-voting (and related technologies) is regarded purely as a potential supplement to paper ballots and not as a replacement; this is partly because Australia is an atypical constituency where getting the majority of citizens out to vote is not a major issue. But it is also because the authors are mindful of the fact that widespread use of E-technologies has the potential to drain Australian elections of their prized festive and solidary character: As a shared experience for almost all Australian adults, universal voting gives rise, temporarily at least, to a powerful, non-particularistic, moral and political community. In the lead up to, and on election day itself, politics in Australia is, literally, everybody’s business.

Before continuing, let us clarify what is meant by electronic voting for the purposes of this chapter.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Associate Editors and Editorial Review Board
Table of Contents
Mehdi Khosrow-Pour
Chapter 1
Marijn Janssen, George Kuk
Stimulated by the need to reduce cost and improve service provisioning and client involvement at the same time, the concept of business models has... Sample PDF
E-Government Business Models: Theory, Challenges and Research Issues
Chapter 2
Roy Ladner
In this chapter we provide an overview of electronic government as it pertains to national security and defense within the Department of Defense... Sample PDF
Electronic Government: Overview and Issues for National Security Interests
Chapter 3
Ranjeev Mittu, Suleyman Guleyupoglu, William Barlow, Michael Dowdy, Sean McCarthy
The emergence of new doctrine is enabling Security, Stabilization, Transition and Reconstruction (SSTR) operations to become a core U.S. military... Sample PDF
Towards Civil-Military Coordination During Security, Stabilization, Transition and Reconstruction Efforts
Chapter 4
Akhilesh Bajaj, Sudha Ram
Recently, there has been increased interest in sharing digitized information between government agencies, with the goals of improving security... Sample PDF
A Comprehensive Framework Towards Information Sharing Between Government Agencies
Chapter 5
Eric T.K. Lim, Chee-Wee Tan, Shan-Ling Pan
As e-government becomes increasingly pervasive in modern public administrative management, its influence on organizations and individuals has become... Sample PDF
E-Government Implementation: Balancing Collaboration and Control in Stakeholder Management
Chapter 6
Yining Chen, H.M. Chen, Russell K.H. Ching, Wayne W. Huang
Over the last decade, the Internet has become one of the most important means of communication in all social areas. The success of Web technology... Sample PDF
Electronic Government Implementation: A Comparison Between Developed and Developing Countries
Chapter 7
Jonna Järveläinen, Eija Koskivaara, Päivi Pihlaja, Hannu Salmela, Jarmo Tähkäpää, Timo Kestilä
This collaborative action research study reports the experiences in developing e-government innovations in early childhood education context in... Sample PDF
Involving Service Professionals in eGovernment Innovation: The Case of Finnish Early Childhood Education
Chapter 8
Jyoti Choudrie, Vishanth Weerakkody
This article examines how horizontal integration between the various departments of a local authority in the United Kingdom (UK) occurs. Following... Sample PDF
Horizontal Process Integration in E-Government: The Perspective of a UK Local Authority
Chapter 9
Lucas Walsh
As developments in communication technologies impact upon many spheres of public and private life, they influence the way in which the public sector... Sample PDF
Online Policy Consultation: A Case Study of Local Government
Chapter 10
Lisa Hill
Due to compulsory voting, Australia’s turnout rate is among the highest and most socially-even in the industrialised world. Nevertheless, some... Sample PDF
Electronic Conduits to Electoral Inclusion in an Atypical Constituency: The Australian Case
Chapter 11
Kevin O’Toole
This chapter analyses local government’s response to the pressure to modernise its structures through its use of Information Communication... Sample PDF
Australia Local Government and E-Governance: From Administration to Citizen Participation?
Chapter 12
Kate Alport
This chapter examines the spread of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in South Australia. It starts by assessing South Australia’s... Sample PDF
Engaging the Community Through E-Democracy in South Australia
Chapter 13
G. P. Sahu
The study seeks to highlight the key variables affecting usage of e-government by internal users of Indian Central Excise. An e-government... Sample PDF
Users' Acceptance of E-Government: A Study of Indian Central Excise
Chapter 14
Tagelsir Mohamed Gasmelseid
The recent economic, organizational and technological transformations are motivating developing countries to adopt electronic government... Sample PDF
A Multi-Agent Service Oriented Modeling of E-Government Initiatives
Chapter 15
Shahram Rahimi
The effectiveness of current search and retrieval systems is restricted as they do not use the semantics of the data but mainly utilize keywords.... Sample PDF
A Methodology for Ontological Mediation in Multi-Agent Systems
Chapter 16
Eugene Santos Jr., Eunice E. Santos, Hien Nguyen, Long Pan, John Korah
With the proliferation of the Internet and rapid development of information and communication infrastructure, E-governance has become a viable... Sample PDF
Analyst-Ready Large Scale Real Time Information Retrieval Tool for E-Governance
Chapter 17
Marco Carvalho
Data dissemination and information management technologies for tactical environments are quickly becoming major areas of research for both military... Sample PDF
In-Stream Data Processing for Tactical Environments
Chapter 18
Dilip Kumar Sharma, Gopalji Varshneya, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay
This article analyzes the diffusion of a Web technology named AJAX in facilitating e-government architecture and enhancing its potential by... Sample PDF
AJAX in Development of Web-Based Architecture for Implementation of E-Governance
About the Contributors