Today is the Victorian state election. For us, we always make going to the polls a family activity with various children stuffing the ballots. This year I went further and delegated my vote to my 8 year old daughter. There were lots of good reasons to do this. First of all, votes don’t really count. According to Andrew Leigh, there are only a handful of elections in Australian history where individual votes may have mattered. In our electorate, Ted Baillieu (the leader of the opposition Liberal party) is the sitting member and it is a very safe Liberal seat. So there is no chance a vote will actually matter.
Second, I have become convinced that there is actually little reason why children who can read at a sufficient level cannot vote. They have opinions. They put more thought into the process. They care about the future. They actually have different views from adults (which is the main point here). And finally, they have the time to put effort in as if their vote mattered (something that I apparently no longer have).
And what was the result, you may ask? Well, it was entirely predictable. My daughter politely took all of the fliers from each party and we discussed each one and what policies they represented. Regular readers will not be surprised that her first preference was for the Greens; which she also applauded for having a name that reflected their party’s stance. Her second preference was Labor as she worried more about the poor than the level of taxation befalling her family. And the rest was as the Green preferences dictated.
My daughter filled out the ballot paper — more neatly than I would have (again another reason why children should vote) — then she gave each of the fliers back to the party members (after all, she stood for not wasting paper) and we got a sausage sizzle (as per Australian tradition). All in all a good exercise.
[PS: Here is an interesting experience of another blogger who let their children vote recently.]
[PPS: Just so it is clear, this was a monitored activity. Of course, legally, it was me voting as the ballot paper was given to me, I was completely involved and it was all under the watchful gaze of our election workers. It is just that there was lots of input from my daughter and help with penmanship. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was encouraging actions that would actually violate our electoral laws.]