I spent Saturday afternoon and early evening at Knox Gardens Primary in Melbourne. I was handing out How To Vote cards for the Liberal Party in the Aston by-election until the polling booth shut at 6pm and then followed two hours of as ‘scrutineer’ watching officials from the Australian Electoral Commission counting votes in the school gymnasium.
Australia has changed a lot over the 35 years that I’ve been handing out How To Vote cards as a Liberal Party member. What hasn’t changed though is the sense of politeness that prevails at the polling booth. Most voters take a How To Vote card from each of the parties – it’s easier to say ‘thank you’ to someone thrusting something at you than it is to say ‘no’ – and that way no-one is offended. (I once was at a booth in a ‘Dead Red’ Labor seat. I guessed 70% of voters took the Liberal How To Vote card. The Liberal first preference vote at that booth turned out to be 25%.)