Three entirely unrelated bits of information that don’t involve the Eden-Monaro by-election, for which another dedicated post is assuredly not far away (the most recent, and its attendant discussion thread, is here):
• This week’s Essential Research poll looks at indigenous issues and gender equality, finding broadly liberal viewpoints prevailing in each case. On the former count, most agreed that indigenous Australians and Pacific islanders had been “forced to work in Australia in conditions that amounted to slavery”, but 42% agreed that “many of the new cases of Covid-19 in Victoria have been from people who attended the Black Lives Matter protest” compared with 37% who believed it to be false. On gender equality, majorities somehow managed to agree both that there was “still a long way to go” and that it had “already been mostly achieved”, though a lot more emphatically in the former case. Respondents were also asked who got paid too much (bankers and lawyers) and too little (nurses and teachers).
• Tom Richardson of InDaily reports on an imminent package of electoral reform in South Australia, which may include the introduction of optional preferential voting. Labor leader Peter Malinauskas has accused Premier Steven Marshall of a move to “rig the next election”, and invoked the bogey of “the polarisation of our democracy in the way we have seen in the United States”. Malinauskas’s real concern is more likely to do with Greens preferences, the system having raised no such concerns for the Labor governments that introduced them in New South Wales and Queensland, back when its main impact was to weaken intra-Coalition preference flows in three-cornerned contests. The Greens have also declared their opposition, which would leave its upper house fate in the hands of the three survivors of the Nick Xenophon disturbance. The government’s reforms may also include crackdowns on corflutes (which seem to be particularly popular in South Australia) and dissemination of how-to-vote cards at polling booths.
• Justin Hendry of IT News reports the Australian Electoral Commission is looking into a full rollout of the electronic certified list system for marking off voters, which operated at around 10% of polling places at last year’s election. This replaces the more familiar method of paper lists marked off by pencil, which offer no guarantee the prospective voter has not already voted somewhere else beyond the requisite verbal assurance. As such, it can genuinely help prevent multiple voting, unlike a lot of other supposed electoral reforms that are invoked in its name. However, it may also constitute a point of vulnerability to nefarious actors.