Thursday, September 5, 2019

My first voting experience

With the current US election thing going on, it reminded me of my first voting experience, which is an interesting and funny story.
I remember back in 1989 in my home town in Australia, which lies in it's own federal capital district much like D.C., we finally had self-government unwillingly thrust upon us as a replacement for the previous decades of federal rule. Turns out that 1989 was the first year I was old enough to vote, and of course I was required to do so because voting is compulsory in Australia, you get a $200 fine if you can't provide a legitimate excuse for not showing up to the polls.
Anyways, among the many mistakes made during the switch to self-government were the poor party registration laws that allowed people to register any political party they wanted for just $50.

Thus in 1989, the first time I ever voted, one of the most bizarre elections on record was held. The Australian sense of humor shone through with many less-than-serious political parties such as the Sleepers Wake Party, the Better Idea Party, the Surprise Party, the Party! Party! Party! Party! Party!, the Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party, and the It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To Party. There were also numerous independents running for office, and among the many parties there were even two who stood on the sole policy of abolishing themselves from government should they win: the Abolish Self-Government Party and the No Self-Government Party.

So with all these parties, the ballot paper turned out to be over a meter wide, and stretched from one wall of the polling booth to the other and happily rolled up the walls on both sides as well. As if this wasn't enough of a farce, the voters made a lot of protest votes as well, and in the end the Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party (at 2 per cent of the vote) out voted both the Democrats (1.6%) and the Nationals (1.3%). Unsurprisingly, a clear result wasn't forthcoming.

Needless to say the party registration laws were changed soon afterwards.

So as to lend credibility to this outlandish story, here's the Wikipedia article for the Sun-Ripened Warm Tomato Party:
- From the annals of Dave Bad Person's "Believe It or Drink"

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