30 September 2020

Probing the polls: there's no love for corflutes, but what about voting?

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Andrew Barr voting

Andrew Barr voting for the 2020 ACT election. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

They’re the bane of many Canberrans’ lives come election time and it was no surprise to find in last week’s poll that the majority of readers loathe the corflute plague and want them banned.

Minor party candidate Bethany Williams made an impassioned plea for understanding about why independents and smaller parties use the signs.

“If you don’t know who we are, you won’t vote for us. And at a time when we desperately need to have a more diverse crossbench to ensure more scrutiny and transparency, minor parties and independents need your votes more than ever.

“When we have a more diverse Legislative Assembly, we will have better democracy. And this will be a really positive thing for Canberra,” she wrote.

READ MORE If you’re complaining about corflutes, spare a thought for the minor parties

But the argument got short shrift with many readers.

Steve said: “Minor parties and independents can either keep the major parties to account, or interfere in government consensus and stifle work or progress, particularly when minor parties and independents conform to particular left or right ideologies that are not neutral, moderate or centrist. There is also no significant centrist, neither left or right party holding balance like the Australian Democrats did federally in its heyday.”

And Rainer N Palma Busacker said corflutes were “a waste of funds, get out there and meet the people”. Before noting that “on the other hand it’s helping the local printer”.

We asked: “Should we ban election corflutes?”, and 874 people responded.

Your options were to vote “No, give the smaller parties a go and show some patience”. This received 19 per cent of the total, or 163 votes.

Alternatively, you could vote “Yes, the damn things are infuriating rubbish”, and this was the clear winner, receiving 81 per cent of the total, or 711 votes.

This week, we’re wondering how enthusiastic you are about the whole election? Regular columnist Zoya Patel wrote recently about her distinct lack of enthusiasm for the ACT election, describing herself as increasingly “cold and cynical” about the process.

READ MORE Election season is in full swing, but my enthusiasm still hasn’t arrived

“I drive past the avenues of corflutes thinking how, aside from the currently elected, I don’t know a single thing about any candidate and I’m not sure that I care to find out”, she wrote.

“I read policy announcements with a cold detachment, and an overwhelming sense of ‘what does it matter, they’ll just do whatever they want when they’re elected anyway’. My sense of agency in a democratic system has been marred, and I have to wonder if it’s because I’m no longer in the comfortable majority with my views – is this how other people have felt all along?”

Voting is not actually compulsory in Australia although turning up to vote either in person or via postal vote is mandatory and will earn you a fine if you fail to comply.

Arguably, it’s one of the great strength of our system and protects us from extremists governments, voted in elsewhere when many citizens don’t bother to participate. But here in the ACT, many assume that the results are a foregone conclusion and their votes will make little difference to the result.

Our question this week is:

Would you vote in this ACT election if you didn’t have to do so?

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Someone’s put Nana Maskouri album covers over the coreflutes in Yarralumla. Vote for Nana

“I drive past the avenues of corflutes thinking how, aside from the currently elected, I don’t know a single thing about any candidate and I’m not sure that I care to find out”

Is that the fault of the process though, or the individual who doesn’t care to find out? I suspect that most people spend more time waiting in line for their morning coffee then bothering to find out anything about the parties or candidates.

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