The Problem: The anger and cynicism of voters about how foolishly they are manipulated at elections, not just about politicians. Compare my Dream Elections !
In my Dream Elections
Politicians and the media together ensure the public can know what all the policies are. The public are told about all the important issues that will be facing the next government, who all the candidates are how much the costs are and who are paying these costs.
- Voters can vote for or against key policies as well as for candidates. On each ballot paper, the marks in checkboxes can be computer-scanned and compiled, so that mandates and opposition are both clear.
- No election campaign is held during major sporting events or school holidays.
There is sufficient opportunity for columnists, experts on issues, individual candidates and the public to publish and discuss their opinion and ideas
- The Electoral Commission runs a Web Page that has links to all parties and Independents and their policies,
together with summary pages on issues for comparisons,
an ongoing Debates page for all claims and counterclaims,
a series of pages with information on all candidates,
and a page for corrections of misinformation. This last will be invaluable.
- The media presents all election information under two headings that distinguish Gossip Pursuits and Serious Pursuits, so that voters are not jungl-bungld.
The Trivial Pursuits will include all Leader Personality cults, gossip, and funny events.
The Serious Pursuits is about policies, past records, future problems, and relevant information about all candidates.
- The record of the previous government includes
a summary of the legislation it has passed
the income it has made from selling off public assets
what were the costs of selling off the assets and who profited
what benefits government actions have given to the major funders of its political party.
- A brief summary of the record of the opposition when in government is also in order. Parliamentary record of the other parties and Independents can also be published.
Print media will set this out in a consistent form that voters can collect and refer back to when preparing to vote.
- Reporters and journalists can win awards for clarity and good style with which they present this information, with points deducted for putting a spin on it.
- There is NO polling of voters' intentions.
Every interviewer who asks anyone who they think will win is fined $100 on the spot.
This will leave a fantastic amount of time, space and money to be spent on important issues. We will then not be swayed by the 'New Hampshire' conformity effect, whereby people tend to conform to the winnings streak.
Voters won't know who seems to be winning, and so will have to think for themselves.
- Voters CAN be polled on what they want their government to do,and on the issues that they are concerned about.
- Excitement during the election can be maintained by the mystery that nobody knows who is going to win, because there are no polls. Everyone has to campaign their hardest.
- The media also keep a running record of Promises, like a batting list, and afterwards this Promise List will be periodically reviewed. Government candidates may have to put up a bond, to be paid back as the promise is kept - or not.
- The media can set up Definitions of Terms, and ask candidates to explain what they mean by 'Growth', and what sort of 'Jobs' they think are needed in this country, and make other checks on guff.
- Pictures during the election campaign can be both Serious and Trivial, in both print and broadcast media, but they do not focus on the LEADERS, as if we were a dictatorship. Many pics can be graphic depictions of the problems and ideals of the country and internationally.
- THERE IS NO POLITICAL ADVERTISING ON TV. This saves an enormous amount of campaign money and consequent gratitude debt to the big funders.
- Instead, there are debates on all major issues by the major parties with the minor parties also getting an oar in. All parties have the chance of a policy speech, ranging from 2 minutes for a party still unrepresented in Parliament to 30 minutes for the two main parties, and these will be repeated once. A set of backgrounds can be provided by the individual channel and the speakers can choose their background.
- Any claim made by one party can be countered by another in a right of public reply.
- Advertisers can publicly sponsor these programs - if no advertisers wish to take them on, then it remains part of the responsibility of the channel to put them on, as a condition of its license, as a public service.
- Freedom of speech. At present, freedom is being progressively reduced, with limits, permits and charges for permits. During election campaigns, anyone should have the right to stand in public places offering campaign material and discussion, provided they do not obstruct , create noise, or actively approach people. Melbourne should have well publicised places like Yarra Bank in every locality, where soapboxing and poster-sticking is free. A good tourist and leisure attraction.
- NO WASTE OF PAPER IN HOW TO VOTE CARDS. People can take them into the booths, and then return them to the handers-out, or the regulations can be changed so that party how-to-vote cards can even be stuck up inside voting booths, with randomised order differing from voting niche to niche. (It is socially desirable for representatives of candidates to be around polling stations, to add colour and life to voting day.)
- NO BALLOONS and US style gimmickry until after the elections, when there can be all sorts of celebrations and mourning. Songs however are welcome, and people can dress up as election issues.
- COMEDY. Starting from now, comedians and writers can start collecting their stuff for election comedy during the campaign.
That's for a start.
The recommendations are modest, and should be welcomed by everyone - except those who may have their own reasons to object.
They are a way of making Australian elections a popular international tourist attraction, and a highlight of people's lives.
Let us regard Elections as an Olympic Event in the highest sense.
Everyone can start improving on these ideas now.