Voting changes

There’s a reason South Australians refer to March as “Mad March”.
Between arts festivals, car races, music events and major sporting contests there’s hardly a day when something isn’t happening somewhere in Adelaide.
Add an election into the mix and the State’s political parties should consider themselves lucky that most people remembered to vote on Saturday, and in the days leading up to polling day.
People are busy and they’re not always home in their electorate on a Saturday.
The evidence of that is revealed in the huge number of votes still uncounted in this election.
On Tuesday morning the Electoral Commission SA had more than 350,000 ballots to work through from a total of just over 1.14 million.
It means about a third of the eligible voters in the State chose to vote before the election or had to lodge an absentee vote in another electorate.
That’s an increase from about 100,000 outstanding votes at the last election in 2010 and about 66,000 outstanding votes in the 2006 election.
This time around, given the tight result, it is the major parties who are paying the price for this growing trend.
They now have to wait a week to find out who might have the numbers to form a government.
If they want to do something about it, rather than tweaking the fairness clause in the redistribution process (as loudly called for by the Liberals), the new batch of politicians should give serious thought to changing the vote counting protocols and the whole vote taking system.
About 80,000 people chose to vote in person at pre-polling booths in the two weeks before the election. There’s no logistical reason why they couldn’t be sorted and distributed to the appropriate electorates to be counted on election day.
That still leaves about 180,000 absentee votes, lodged in other electorates, which can’t be dealt with on election day under the current system.
Perhaps now is the time to seriously consider electronic voting.
Surely with today’s technology it should be possible to overcome security problems and other issues.
Doing away with paper and the current manual counting system would make it much easier to vote, quicker to count and cheaper for taxpayers.
Under this arrangement it wouldn’t matter if you were working, playing sport, running children around the countryside or sitting in a fishing boat completely ignoring the world, South Australians could have their say and governments could quickly get on with the role of governing.