15 October 2020

Probing the polls: maddening magpies and early voting trends

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Electronic voting

Early electronic voting at CMAG Photo: Region Media.

While complaints abound about vengeful magpies and their maddening seasonal habits, most Canberrans aren’t too bothered, it seems.

Region Media’s David (“Miserable”) Murtagh wrote last week that magpies were, like vegan bacon and wasps, “proof of a vengeful God”.

“There’s no reason for their being,” he wrote. “And before you ask, yes, this rant is the result of swooping. An incessant, good-for-nothing swooping. Magpies swoop and peck and harass and pester not because they need to, but because they can. Like a school bully. They also can’t be reasoned with.

“And don’t dare try to come to the defence of these malevolent disease bags. Which some people try to do. Madness”.

READ MORE Magpies are evil, rotten, malevolent, dead-eyed bastards. Fact check: true

Not according to most of you, though. Our comments section abounded with tales of well-loved birds, perching on verandah railings, sharing a treat with the resident humans and even learning how to enter the kitchen via the doggie door.

“Magpies are great birds and full of fun. They won’t swoop you if you feed them. It’s said magpies can recognise up to 20 faces, I don’t how true that is but I do know I can walk through our local Magpie’s domain and not get dive-bombed unlike the other pedestrians walking past :-)”, said Jim Mitchell.

And Stephen Esdaile was even more direct, saying simply “magpies rock”.

Not for everyone, though.

“Cull the swoopers, remove and destroy their nests, and cull the bird that has decided that a vicious swooper is what it wants in a mate. They’re birds, not people,” Paul Murray wrote.

Our poll question for the week was: Magpies in spring, love ’em or hate ’em? A total of 1336 people responded.

Your options were to vote I don’t love anything so much that I’m willing to lose an eye to it. This received 33 per cent of the total, or 448 votes. That made They’re beautiful, cheeky native birds and I love their song a clear winner with 67 per cent of the total or 918 votes.

This week, we’re wondering about early voting.

It’s been a record year for early polling, strongly encouraged by the ACT Government as a result of the pandemic.

The idea is to ensure that everyone votes in a timely fashion, avoiding queues at the polling booths and enabling election officials to clean everything thoroughly.

But COVID-19 aside, there’s been a general trend towards early voting for some time now, possibly to the detriment of political campaigns that have traditionally focussed on a last-minute push to win the undecided voters.

But if you’ve already voted weeks ago, is there any point to all the fuss?

Our question this week is:

Do you prefer early voting?

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