My Australian friends go to the polls today. One will vote for the incumbents (alas); another will vote against them.
Voting is mandatory in Australia. 93% voted in their last election 3 years ago. That's so much more impressive than the 69% who voted in our most recent election - and that was our best turnout in over 20 years!
I had always thought that it was fear of the penalty that drove Australians to vote. Today I learned that this may not be the case.
It seems that sausage sizzles are an important part of election day in Australia. At sausage sizzles, barbecued sausages (snags) are served on a single slice of (typically) white bread, with optional grilled onions and the customer's choice of sauces. Sausage sizzles are charity fundraising and community events. And, since the population are a captive audience at polling stations where better to raise funds? Well organized community groups will serve cake, too.
Such is the attraction of election day sausage sizzles that polling places are rated by their sizzle.
The Booth Reviews website tells me that, based on the last election, if my friends vote at Wilkins Public School they might expect "Nice relaxed family vibe, tasty snags and a pleasant community feel." or "Top notch snags. Lightly populated when we attended. Professional outfit behind the tables. Cracking cake stall. ***** stars". By contrast at the Dulwich Hill Salvation Army Hall at the last election "Pencils weren't sharpen, staff didn't seem well trained how to handle an address change". Today, the 2016 Federal Election Sausage Sizzle and Cake Stall Map tells me that Wilkins Public School will have a sausage sizzle, drinks and cakes and there will be a vegetarian option. Dulwich Hill will only have the sausage sizzle and cakes; no drinks and vegetarians should vote elsewhere.
I have no idea if any of this means that voters can pick and choose their polling place. You certainly can't do that in Canada. But I'm certainly intrigued at what sounds like a party atmosphere at the polls. Maybe that's what we've been missing? Perhaps that's what we need to introduce to improve voter turnout in Canada?