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Ending compulsory voting could bring confusion: expert

Brett Wortman

QUEENSLAND adopting voluntary voting could lead to electoral confusion and an increase in informal votes, an expert believes.

A Queensland Government discussion paper, released on Thursday, asks for submissions on whether the state should keep compulsory voting as well as submissions on current political donation laws.

QUT Professor Clive Bean, an expert in voting behaviour, admitted some informal votes received now were from people forced to vote but with no interest in elections.

But he said other informal votes could result from Queensland having voluntary laws but the Commonwealth still requiring compulsory voting in federal elections.

"...then we might end up with situations where there is confusion in votes between state and commonwealth voting," Prof Bean said.

The Queensland Government identified in the discussion paper voter confusion could be a problem in reinstating voluntary voting.

Prof Bean explained compulsory voting put the onus on people in rural areas to vote rather that forcing political parties to go out and encourage participation.

Meanwhile, Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce has been the latest politician to weigh in on the debate.

Senator Joyce told News Limited a return to voluntary voting would mean Australian politics would become more extreme to encourage people to vote.

"The next thing is you would have a rise in the capacity of the parties on the far right and suddenly we would have a white Australia policy coming into the fore and on the far left, we will have a carbon tax on breathing and we will have people saying all development is evil," he said.

Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull supported the argument stating on Twitter Senator Joyce's point about parties going to extreme was "spot on" as in the United States.

Topics:  barnaby joyce, queensland government, voting



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