It may not have hit the news in America over the weekend but Australia had a federal election last week. Seeing the coverage on Australian news and social media reminded me of how different the election system is in Australia. There are some similarities such as the minimum age and having to register to vote but many things are totally different. Here is a short list of some of the differences in regards to federal elections.
1: In Australia anyone 18 or older must be registered to vote and must vote in every election. Failure to vote will result in a $20-$180 fine unless you have a valid reason not to. Valid reasons would include being seriously ill or being outside of the country.
In America you do not have to vote if you don't want to. You must be registered to be able to vote but you are not required to vote if you don't want to.
|Kevin Rudd announcing that the election will be on Sep 7 Source|
In America voting day is on Tuesday
3: In Australia the elections are roughly 3 years apart. The current prime minister gets to set the date of the next election within a set window of time.The power to determine the election date can be an advantage to the current Prime Minister.
In America voting for the president is on the first Tuesday in November every fourth year.
4: Australia uses a preferential voting system. To vote you need to rank all of the candidates in order of preference. You would put a 1 next to your preferred candidate, then a 2 next to your next preferred candidate and so forth until all of the candidates on the ballot have a number. The process of counting and selecting a winner is quite complicated so I have included a YouTube video that will explain it much better than I can.
In America voters select one candidate per office on their ballot.
5: The prime minister is not directly voted for by the citizens in Australia. Instead they vote for their parliamentarian, (which is similar to a member of Congress in the U.S) and then the political party that has the most seats in parliament chooses a leader who is the prime minister.
The President of the U.S is voted by using the electoral college. Each voter selects a panel of electors and then those electors, known as the electoral college, actually cast the official votes for the president. The video below explains it quite well.
I hope you enjoyed learning all about Australian and U.S. elections. Which country's system do you prefer?