Vote or be fined. It’s an idea moving through the legislature this year that’s got so many people fired up. “Hawaii should be embarrassed by itself. We’ve got the lowest voter turnout in the nation,” said Republican Re. Gene Ward, who represents Hawaii Kai. That’s why Ward says he’s introduced a bill requiring Hawaii residents to vote or be charged a $100 fine. That triggered thousands of hits and hundreds of comments on KITV4’s Facebook Page. The debate keeps on raging. “I think it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. You have a bunch of people who don’t have a clue about what they’re voting about and they have no business voting,” said Waialua resident Chuck Vowell. “I would agree — some fine on their taxes, or on their driver’s license. And a small fee or penalty to encourage them to vote, because we should. It’s your civic duty,” said real estate agent David Bautista.
Election officials fear a record three million Australians either won’t vote or will cast an informal vote this election as the deadline looms for enrolments. Voters have until 8pm (AEST) to register their details with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC). Spokesman Phil Diak said there were 14.6 million on the roll at the weekend, out of a total pool of 15.9 million. He said 900,000 people didn’t vote last federal election and about 700,000 spoiled their ballot papers resulting in informal votes.
More than 1.3 million Australians still aren’t enrolled to vote in the federal election. And with Monday night the deadline, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) faces an uphill battle to persuade around five per cent of the nation to register. About 100,000 people have enrolled since June, thanks in part to a high profile advertising campaign, links posted on Facebook and Twitter and a new online enrolment system. The AEC expects a late flurry this weekend but a spokesman conceded there will be some who miss the 8pm (AEST) Monday deadline and won’t be eligible to vote.
Czech presidential candidate Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens´ Rights, SPOZ) would support the introduction of the duty to vote while absentees would be fined some 5000 crowns, he said in a pre-election debate organised by iDnes.cz server today. He said the high absence from elections is one of the reasons of Communists (KSCM) having assumed power in some regions after last autumn´s polls. His counter-candidate, Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg said the Communists have gained some weight due to the economic crisis and the mistakes the current coalition government of Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has made. “I agree with Mr Schwarzenberg that the activities of Necas´s government are naturally one of the factors behind the Communists´ election success,” former Social Democrat prime minister Zeman said. “However, another factor is the low turnout and I believe that the duty to vote would be a solution,” Zeman said.