SYDNEY (AP) — Australians on Saturday were facing an election choice of two relatively unpopular and uninspiring leaders. But they were flocking to the polls, nonetheless — because, by law, they have to.

More than 14.7 million of Australia's population of 23 million are enrolled to vote in Saturday's election, which pits the ruling center-left Labor Party against the conservative Liberal Party -led opposition. With a general lack of enthusiasm plaguing both parties' leaders, low voter turnout could be expected in most other countries. But not Down Under.

That's because Australia is one of a handful of countries in which voting is mandatory. Those who fail to vote face a fine of up to 50 Australian dollars ($46).

"The view in Australia is that it's not the interested, the engaged, who win elections. It's the disengaged," Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s election analyst Antony Green said.

"There's a vast proportion of the electorate, maybe a third of the electorate, who in every other country in the world probably wouldn't bother voting," he added. "In Australia, they all vote."

Engaging the disengaged is the complex skill of Australian politics. And with more than 15 percent of voters undecided in the final week of the campaign, it's a skill that's polished all the way to polling day.

In general, most Australians have no problem with compulsory voting; polls consistently show a large majority support it. Those in favor of the practice, which has been in place since 1924, argue that voting is a civic duty. Those against it brand it undemocratic.

Asked whether Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or opposition leader Tony Abbott would make a better national leader, Sydney resident Penelope Chapple paused, laughed and replied: "Neither." Still, she was happy to vote on Saturday and is equally happy that all Aussies are required to do so.

"I think we are very fortunate to live in a democracy and I think we should take it quite seriously that we do get the opportunity to have a vote," she said.

In an interview earlier this year, former Prime Minister Julia Gillard cited the United States' voluntary voting system as one reason why stricter gun control measures failed to pass Congress.

"Compulsory voting is a precious, precious thing and it makes our politics the politics of the mainstream," Gillard told Sydney's Inner West Courier. "If you ask yourself the question how come? Well, in the U. S. they can't have rational gun laws. A big explanation of that is voluntary voting, where small, highly motivated minorities can distort a whole political debate."

___Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk contributed to this report from Canberra, Australia.


Publishing Services International Limited (PSIL) is the publisher and operator of a worldwide network of online news sites dedicated to delivering fair, accurate and relevant reporting from a variety of the world’s most trusted sources – from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

We deliver positive and powerful messages to our readers, providing up‑to‑the‑second news that matters to the individual.

Our promise is to serve communities and individuals worldwide, delivering information that hasn’t always been available to them. We will give them back a voice – a voice that’s empowering because it is theirs – and provide a platform to communicate between themselves and the world.

We believe people are not just generic demographics; they are individuals with their own preferences and curiosities. We are about understanding these individuals, listening to them, and serving them.

We are the new pioneering spirit of news – we’re not talking to everyone, we’re talking with every one.

If you want your news, your voice, your way, on your time – we’ve got news for you.




If you have any questions or concerns please email us on


  • Australia, Toll Free 1-800-983-421
  • Hong Kong, Toll Free 800-906-187
  • Singapore, Toll Free 800-852-3871
  • USA/Canada, Toll Free 1-800-830-4132

Advertise With Us

Interested in being awesome?
Contact us by email or phone.