The foundation upon which Australian democracy rests.
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The foundation upon which Australian democracy rests.

Democracy sausages keep Australians voting

Fire up the grill, throw on some sausages, and go vote. 

Dr. Peter Chen, senior lecturer of political science at the University of Sydney explains why Australians love casting their ballot. And it's not just about the sausages.

It's compulsory to enroll and show up to vote in Australia. But Dr Chen says what keeps Australians voting is a deep sense of civic duty. It's rare that people spoil their ballot there.

And it shows in the numbers. 95 percent of Australians turn out for federal elections. At the state level in New South Wales, it's 91 percent.

Which makes our voter stats look limp by comparison. Seattle had the fourth highest turnout of US metro areas: a paltry 56 percent in the last three midterm elections.

Part of the problem is the way elections are administered in the US, says Dr Chen.

"Most Australians look at the completely partisan way elections are administered in the United States with a degree of dismay. The sort of voter purging activity that we see in parts of the United States does not occur in Australia."

He also believes deep-rooted cultural differences mean Americans wouldn't embrace compulsory voting.

Even with the added incentive of a democracy sausage. That's grilled sausage on bread with ketchup to the rest of us.


Democracy sausages

Voter registration in Australia is compulsory. You can spoil your ballot, or not send it in – but that would be contrary to cultural norms, says Dr. Peter Chen. He’s senior lecturer of political science at the University of Sydney. He explains why Americans will never adopt a compulsory voting system (and what precisely goes into a democracy sausage).


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