What you need to know about voting

With a federal election coming up, for younger uni students this could be your first time voting, or at least your first time voting in a federal election. So here are some quick tips to make the process a bit easier:

It’s kind of a big deal

But that being said, the people who run the polling booths are seriously nice and will be happy to answer any questions you have – you just have to get through the sea of leaflet-givers first, but remember you don’t have to take anything. Not only does your vote help to shape Australia, but in this country voting is mandatory, and if you don’t vote or don’t register to vote you can get in serious trouble. As in fines. Monetary fines. Which no uni student has the spare cash to pay.

Don’t do a donkey vote

A donkey vote is a common Australian pastime. Instead of taking the time to vote for the parties you think would be best, you just number the boxes in order from 1 to however many options there are. While this seems like a seriously easy way out of making a legitimate vote, there is a fatal flaw. You’re still voting. That donkey vote will still be counted. And you have no idea who you voted for. If you really don’t want to cast a vote, try putting smiley faces in the boxes, experimenting with drawing some giant genitalia, or just do nothing at all. And don’t worry, you can’t get in trouble for it. One of the perks of a secret vote.

There are more than just two parties

Contrary to what Australian political history might have you think, there are more than two political parties that are able to run the country. Historically, it comes down to the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National Party Coalition, but with the rise in young people registered to vote, there is an increased chance the Greens might see their first term in power. But that can only happen if people vote for them. Contrary to popular perception, there are loads of political parties out there, and it’s important to vote for the ones you believe in, not just the parties you think will win.

Only a pencil

This is one of those weird voting facts. When you go into the polling booth, you’ll only be given a pencil to use. This is largely because pencils are cheaper for the government to provide, and are less likely to break. But for some people, using a pen is just a bit more comfortable, especially if you’re the kind of person who wants to vote below the line. You’re actually allowed to bring your own writing utensils into the polling booth with you, so feel free to use whatever feels right when you’re casting your vote.