Tips for first time voters

This Saturday Australians take to the polls after a record eight week election campaign. It’s been a long haul for everyone involved, and personally I’m over the pathetic advertising and campaigning from both sides. Will Malcolm Turnbull hold on to win his first full term in the top job, or will Bill Shorten prove to be the more popular choice and result in the fourth change of Prime Minister for Australia since 2013? The sooner this is decided, the sooner we can all stop seeing advertising with the face of either Turnbull or Shorten and a slogan as to why you can’t trust them.

As an eager first time voter, I’ve noticed this trait isn’t shared amongst my immediate group of friends - many of whom don’t know who to vote for or simply don’t care. The purpose of this post is to explain how to make an informed decision on Saturday - but not to tell you who to vote for.

My first tip is don’t vote for a minor party. You may have heard of The Greens and think they’re a tempting choice in amongst the whole Labor vs Liberal debate. Fun fact: They aren’t. Don’t vote for the Greens, or any other “minor” party for that matter. They don’t represent what you think they do, and quite frankly are a waste of time and money. Now I did say I wasn’t going to tell you who to vote for, and I guess I lied a little. But this is it on that front, I promise. Your choice needs to come down to one of the two largest parties - Labor or Liberal.

The second tip is don’t be tempted to donkey vote, or vote informally. This occurs when one goes down to an election booth and numbers the boxes in a way that isn’t genuinely a vote for either party. Although this vote is counted, it is usually uninformed and definitely a wasted vote. An informal vote means the ballot paper hasn’t been filled in correctly and these votes are not counted. In either of these instances, you are missing out on the opportunity to have your say. Part of this democracy we live in is the right to vote, and I strongly discourage against letting your vote go to waste. If you don’t bother to vote properly you have no right to complain about anything that happens politically for the next three years. Here are a list of good reasons against donkey voting.

“But who do I vote for?” Ah! The age-old question, and one that I’ve been asked many times in the last few weeks. Here’s the thing, I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I can tell you how to vote. Choose the party whose policies best match your interests. Choosing who to vote for is the one time every three years in which it’s socially acceptable to be downright selfish. It’s important to do some research, have a look at what each party is offering, choose what you value, and vote for the party who will offer you the most benefit. Do you care about health, education, the economy, the environment, how much tax you pay, etc.?

There’s one more thing that is worth pointing out: A party isn’t defined by their leader, despite what you may think. There’s a lot more to a political party than the one man or woman who stands at the head and represents them - because that’s all they do. They’re a chosen representative. It’s a matter of Labor vs Liberal, not Shorten vs Turnbull.

The most important takeaway you can get from this post is to make an informed vote. Take an interest in what is happening around you, and vote for what you believe in. Remember that your vote does count and it’s important to not waste it.

So, stick to a major party, don’t waste your vote by donkey voting, and vote for the party that best represents yourself. After all, they’re going to be running the country for the next three years.

To end, here’s a pro-tip: Waiting in line to vote doesn’t have to be torture. Google have put together a handy website at https://election.google.com.au/ to inform voters where to pick up a sausage sizzle while waiting in line on election day, so hopefully that will ease the wait.

Happy voting, and remember: You can’t go wrong if you make an informed choice.