A rise in the number of people deliberately voting informally is likely being driven by the young, many of whom feel disaffected with the mainstream political process, new research suggests. A paper by University of Adelaide researchers, soon to be published in the Australian Journal of Political Science, charted the rise of informal voting at recent elections and cross-referenced those trends with other data. Lead author, politics professor Lisa Hill, said the focus was on the proportion of voters who deliberately handed in blank or defaced ballots, as opposed to those that had made mistakes filling the papers out.
“[The Australian Electoral Commission] can see when someone has tried to vote informally and with intention, it’s either blank or it’s scribbled on,” Professor Hill said.
“They count how many wrote profanities, how many wrote ‘I don’t like compulsory voting’ or ‘I’d like another candidate’ or ‘not enough choice’.”
Figures show that at the 2013 federal election, 5.9 per cent of votes were informal – the highest level since 1984.
But, more significantly, the proportion of informal votes that were deemed deliberate jumped from 34 per cent in 2001 to almost 49 per cent in 2010.