Voluntary Voting System

| December 3, 2008

The current compulsory system of voting is a parody of democracy allowing the less-informed, manipulated, apathetic and emotionally motivated people to decide the outcome of elections.

Australia needs to introduce a voluntary voting system to replace the existing compulsory system. This should improve the quality of Australian democracy, by allowing the well-informed and motivated people who are analytical, critical and committed to politics to elect quality politicians. This in turn can motivate politicians to present better plans for the future of the country.

It is in contrast with the current compulsory system of voting, which allows the less-informed, the manipulated, the apathetic and the emotionally motivated people to decide the outcome of elections. It is a parody of democracy. Under the current compulsory system of voting, politicians often use their social intelligence to play on people's insecurity by promoting issues that bring fear in the mind of average voters, which distract them from focusing on other major issues facing the country.

It is essential for Australia to allow the middle class to have more input in the political process, because the start and the maintenance of the quality of any democracy in the world is usually dependant on the strength of the country's middle class and its intelligentsia.

The demand to establish a democratic system in a country usually emanates from the size and the strength of its middle class. The middle class and the intelligentsia act as a social safety valve between the polarised Left and Right, because in a capitalist system, the relationship between the employer and the employee is generally based on exploitation.

Politics play a pivotal role in everybody's life, in social engineering and international relations, which nobody can afford to ignore. It's an essential part of human history, its present and future. It is everybody's responsibility to elect honest politicians who devote themselves to the national interest, rather than to their own hidden agendas.

Well-informed constituents with basic skills in awareness are capable of recognising political manoeuvring and to choose politicians who are committed to serve the national interest, rather than their own agendas.

To maintain their position, politicians provoke fear of different ideology, fear of industrial laws to free the labour market, high interest rates, trade unions, terrorism, unemployment, other political parties, other races and the other religions. They inflict on people the psychological pain of ‘be afraid, be very afraid', often without offering a solution to the problems that they are making people afraid of, except for giving false hope.

The alarm bells should sound when people's emotions are heightened as a result of political or religious presentations indicating the intention of mind control and manipulation.

The success of a party to the detriment of other parties often relates to the amount of emotion and deception used, which is aimed at the insecurity of the average person.

This can be aggravated by the absence of a strong moderate media and press to present a balanced picture to counter the rich, powerful and biased right wing media and press, to enable people to reach informed judgement and to adopt a moderate ideology. This is because most of the influential media and press are controlled by groups with huge financial interests, which usually don't coincide with interests of the average citizen.

The voluntary voting system however, would not work in the present semi-secular Australia where religious leaders can dictate and manipulate public opinion and influence election results, similar to what is happening in America.

For Australia to achieve proper democracy, its semi-secular constitution needs strengthening to become a fully-fledged secular country to achieve a proper democracy, free from religious manipulation and to avoid the American experience.

Born in Iraq in1939, Hani Montan arrived in Australia in 1969 and acquired citizenship in 1973. In 1966, he post graduated with a Masters of Science Degree in Civil and Industrial Engineering. Prior to that, he was a primary school teacher in Iraq. In addition to his extensive travelling around the world, he has studied and worked in Iraq, Russia, Algeria and Australia. Hani worked at Sydney Water as a project engineer and group leader for twenty years, which was followed by fourteen years of managing a retail business and a further four years of study and writing.

The theme of his recent book "Thorny Opinion" is anti-extremism, for ideological moderation, and against political manipulation and religious indoctrination. It deals with such subjects as Politics, Religion, Socio-Economics, Human Relations, International Relations, Environmental Issues and Euthanasia. The book can be previewed on Google Book Search and Amazon.com, and purchased from Amazon.com and BookSurge.com. Australian readers can purchase the book directly from the author by emailing hanimontan@optusnet.com.au ($20.00, postage free within Australia)



  1. sally.rose

    December 4, 2008 at 7:00 am

    In Support of Compulsory Voting

    Whilst I share your distaste for politics predicated on fear, I disagree with your case for the introduction of a voluntary voting system.

    Compulsory voting is essential for representative government. I flatter myself with the thought that I am a thoughtful voter, but the democratic truth is that if people want to vote based on issues which I think are trivial or wrong-minded; then that is their right.

    In principle, I'd like to see the Australian Constitution further secularised (you might like to read my blog ), but in practical terms it wouldn't make a lick of difference to the religiosity of our citizens, and I wouldn't want it to.

    Australia is about as secular as a country can get without infringing on individual's religious freedoms. Politics can't, and shouldn't, function exclusive of any any interaction with the community's social values. 

    Religion does not have a monopoly on creating climates of fear; communism, racism, homophobia and facism have all done a pretty good job at it too.

  2. Hani.Montan

    December 11, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    Response to Sally

    Hi Sally,

    My proposal is not about religious freedom, nor about Rudd and Turnbull prayer in Parliament. It is about separating religion from politics. Rudd and Turnbull can pray as much as they want (at home) before they come to Parliament to denigrate each other. They are free to do what they like, but we have the right to accept or reject them.

    Secularism is about the separation of religion from politics and it is part of scientific and social evolutions. Scientific conclusions, which contradicted the scripture were suppressed by the inquisitions and the heretics were dealt with severely (some are burnt at stake) during the dark ages. The killing of infidels is justified, even in our modern time. Saudi Arabia; mentioned in my book titled "Thorny Opinion" is a good example of backwardness where religion and politics are inseparable.

    Religion has a huge infrastructure that enables it to revert back to the old ways when the right environment is present. In our semi-secular system of government, religion is subsidised by all taxpayers and allowed to flourish. Why do we have to subsidise religious schools for example, when some of the outcomes is the mind control of our children and the creation of sects that could eventually live in conflict.

    The three main conflict creating elements in the world are: Religion, Nationalism and Racism.

    Discouraging these elements can lead to social harmony and peace.   

     Finally, the proposed voluntary voting system should in no way infringe on the right of any adult citizen to vote.

  3. sally.rose

    December 14, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I suspect a voluntary voting

    I suspect a voluntary voting system would always increase the influences of special interest groups as they would be much more committed to voting and campaigning than the majority of the population.

  4. Hani.Montan

    December 18, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Voluntary Voting System-Reply to Sally

    Your comments regarding the increased influences of special interest group in a voluntary voting system is valid. It is however, these interest groups will most likely come from the middle class. The middle class, who is currently sidelined by disappointment of being often overruled by manipulated voters. For the middle class, a voluntary voting system should act as a catalyst for engagement in the political process.

    Because of their dissatisfaction with the two major parties, many of their votes are directed to other minor parties without being translated into seats in Parliament. It is a wasted democracy when we have to rely on two (Left and Right) party system dictating the outcome of manipulated elections, often achieved by targeting voters' emotions, rather than their logic.

    Who will want the gullible to vote? These are the interest groups are generally targeting under the current compulsory system of voting, who are less likely to vote under the voluntary voting system. Hopefully, they wouldn't bother to vote.

    Additionally, a voluntary voting system can produce better and more inclusive leaders who are more capable of motivating our nation than the present polarised and reluctant leadership.

    It is worth noting that because of the compulsory voting system, Australia is unable to update and modernise its Constitution.


    Merry Christmas

  5. DavidLeyonhjelm

    December 21, 2008 at 11:34 pm

    Voluntary Voting System

    The reasons for voluntary voting have nothing to do with middle class values or who might or might not win.  In all other democracies except Belgiium, voting is a basic right.

    The right to do something implies that you have a choice not to do that thing. It would be absurd to say that Australians have the “right to pay tax”. Paying tax is not a right, it is a legal obligation. Under current laws, voting is also not a right but a legal obligation.

    The right to vote is a civil freedom, like free speech or free association. But free speech does not imply a requirement to speak and free association does not imply a requirement to join clubs. Likewise, the freedom to vote should not imply the requirement to vote.

    Proponents of compulsory voting argue that forcing people to vote improves the quality of the democracy. This is untrue. There is no evidence that countries with compulsory voting receive any benefit compared with voluntary voting countries such as New Zealand, Germany, Canada or the United Kingdom.

    Indeed, it may be true that compulsory voting makes the democratic process less responsive to the views of the electorate, as political parties can ignore their primary constituency (who are forced to vote) and instead concentrate solely on swinging voters. Under voluntary voting a candidate would need to appeal both to their supporters (who otherwise might decline to vote) and swinging voters (who might vote for other parties).

    Under compulsory voting, representatives of safe seats face no democratic pressure. Voluntary voting would mean that no seat was truly safe as supporters may refuse to vote. This means that representatives need to constantly be aware of the views in their electorate and could take no victory for granted.

    Only one political party in Australia supports the right to vote – the Liberal Democratic Party (www.ldp.org.au)  All the others treat it like paying tax. 

  6. Brian.Martin

    December 23, 2008 at 2:30 am


    For some material on the history, arguments and opposition to compulsory voting in Australia, see http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/91raven.html

    Brian Martin

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    December 23, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Compulsory voting is simply
    Compulsory voting is simply a form of conscription and should be seen as such. I'm always surprised that Australians who normally oppose conscription also usually approve of compulsory voting. The other think I find most assuming is that most Australians deny that voting is compulsory. Here is an op-ed I co-authored on compulsory voting in the Canberra Times and here (pdf) is an article published by the Centre for Independent Studies.

  8. Graeme

    December 29, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    compulsion is fine; but reinforces the status quo

    An interesting take on the topic, but it is far from clear that voluntary voting would lead to less fear-mongering and manipulative campaigning.  On the contrary, with parties desperate to motivate turnout, appeals to base emotions will be at least as common (and worse, negative campaigning may increase to suppress turnout for rivals).

    Nor do I buy the argument from saliency:  ie that the ignorant's vote counts as much as the vote of us political junkies or those who are passionate for a cause (an argument echoed in Prof Joan Rydon's quip that compulsion means elections are decided by the 'scum and dregs' – ie the ignorant at top and bottom).     In a democracy the simple rule is all count for one.   Almost everyone has a valid opinion on the key, election deciding questions of 'am I better off compared to 3 years ago' or 'is the country headed in the right direction'.

    The best argument for voluntary voting is that compulsion reinforces a lazy status quo.    Has anyone wondered why Australia has had conservative national governments for 75% of the time since federation, yet almost the reverse in 'Labor' states like Tasmania, NSW etc?     The contemporary explanation is 'Labor for services; Liberal for economy/defence' but of course that doesn't explain the historical truth of these figures.

     More likely, compulsion simply reinforces the incumbency benefit.   Government supporters are always more lukewarm in our system than those seeking change.  Compulsion flushes out the lukewarm supporters of the status quo.          Lovers of stability above all will think this a good thing.

  9. vociferous

    July 17, 2010 at 10:41 am

    New Group Supporting Voluntary Voting

    I have just started a facebook Group for Australians who support voluntary voting… Facebook can be a very effective tool for building support and adding the weight of numbers to any argument or cause so please go to the URL below and join to help spread the word if you support voluntary voting.


    Voting is a civic right not a civic duty!