Confront with an open vote

I’ll vote as usual at the 2022 federal election but, before leaving the polling booth, I’ll photograph my marked ballot together with a homemade scorecard for the political party that gets my House of Representatives vote (light green ballot). There will be 12 items on the scorecard, most of which I will have scored as either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Later that day I’ll email that photo and a blank scorecard to the candidate that I vote for, separately forward that to family and friends and invite them to do likewise.

This is an especially potent way to confront the political class, since it’s dangerous for politicians to ignore feedback from their own side. Here is a sample of how the scorecard-ballot would look, and a blank scorecard if you decide do likewise. You can easily adapt the scorecard for postal voting, or design your own.

The scorecard-ballot breaks no laws; we can say how we voted in an exit poll, upload photo’d ballots to social media, show others our postal vote. (Here is the advice from the Australian Electoral Commission.) We are entitled to vote in secret, in a polling booth or by postal vote at home, but also entitled to make ours an open vote, as though raising a hand to be counted at a meeting. There orta be an app for this.

Till we have that app, I’ll keep the photo and use it as a political ID that gives me a say on my side of politics. I’ll use it to confront my side of politics whenever I think a minister or shadow minister should resign, or we need an enquiry into this or that, a question answered, information released, a whistleblower heard. Friends and family will probably hold me to that, which may get uncomfortable but probably as it should be.

This homemade form of ‘party membership’ suits me − no fees, no meetings, no being polite to political bores and one-eyed partisans. Also, I can stop thinking about voting 1 for minor parties or independents in electorates where they have no chance. (The Senate is a separate matter.)

If accused of breaking an unwritten rule − that we keep our vote secret − I will say that it’s dumb to play by the rules when our opponent, the political class in this case, breaks the rules at will.

Originally, the deal was that we vote in secret but that our representatives − MPs and Senators − vote in the open. The deal was that we watch them vote in parliament, follow their line of questioning in parliamentary committees, and hold them to account for their words and actions. They reneged on the deal; it’s as simple as that. We cannot know what they really think, or even that they bother much with thinking, because they simply vote the party line when they come into parliament. They try to make a virtue of it but hide their shame with acts of parliamentary bastardry: the gag, the guillotine, the legislative flood, the filibuster, the Dorothy Dixer.

The political class has reneged on the open conversations that are essential to enduring political settlements between 17 million voters. Can we succeed where the political class has failed? There is only one way to find out.