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BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 07:04
Another thread gave me the idea for this one ... plus the fact that we are running an election here in Western Australia this weekend. Your right to vote ... do you choose to exercise it or not? Since I became eligible to vote many years ago, I have only once missed out on being able to vote and that was through illness. We see plenty of political threads here on PPRuNe complaining about this politician or that but I wonder how many prooners actually go to the polls and vote. Do you?

paulc
6th Sep 2008, 07:17
yes - every time. People died in the past so that I could have the vote in the present - it would cheapen their memory not to do so.

Squeaks
6th Sep 2008, 07:24
Blue,

Strange question: you're from Perth, it's illegal not to vote in Oz :confused:

Dan D'air
6th Sep 2008, 07:35
Yes, every time, have never missed a vote be it in local, national or (and this pains me to say it) European elections. As paulc so rightly says, many millions have given their lives so that we can have the freedom to vote.

Howard Hughes
6th Sep 2008, 07:36
I am not eligible to vote, so I don't...;)

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 07:39
... you're from Perth, it's illegal not to vote in Oz ...Not so, Squeaks ... it is compulsory to attend a polling station and have your name crossed off the list, it is NOT compulsory to vote. You have the option of walking straight out without even accepting a ballot paper or you could register an informal vote (incorrectly marked paper). It's not illegal to fail to vote. It's the attendance that is compulsory.

Rwy in Sight
6th Sep 2008, 07:49
Before I was eligble to vote (I was 16 at the time) a very nice history teacher -very decent person that is- explained to us that during the few minutes one keeps the envelop on his/her hands "one has authority in the country". It sunk to me, maybe one of the two things it did during my high school years.

I have missed a couple of national elections because I was aboard, and a municpal election through illness.

Rwy in Sight

Squeaks
6th Sep 2008, 07:53
Not so, Squeaks ... it is compulsory to attend a polling station and have your name crossed off the list, it is NOT compulsory to vote. You have the option of walking straight out without even accepting a ballot paper or you could register an informal vote (incorrectly marked paper). It's not illegal to fail to vote. It's the attendance that is compulsory.

Good luck with that one as a defence :rolleyes:

Western Australian Electoral Commission: (http://www.waec.wa.gov.au/voting/voting_and_enrolment_FAQs.php?faq=have_to_vote)

Voting is compulsory in Western Australian State elections. You may be fined if you do not vote. You must vote if you are enrolled and 18 years of age or over.

hardhatter
6th Sep 2008, 08:02
Always! Otherwise I am not allowed to bitch and moan about the current batch in charge whenever they think of another brilliant plan...:bored:

like taxing every ticket sold here, for at least 20 euro's! 45 for intercontinental! :mad::mad::mad:

Der absolute Hammer
6th Sep 2008, 08:12
If you are 18, have lived at present address for a month and are Australian citizen, you must enroll. If you are enrolled you must vote. (In Western Australia).
Does that reconcile with democracy?

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 08:24
Just had another read through the law, Squeaks and you are correct. :ok: However, if you do not wish to vote, or if you want to register a "protest" vote, you return a blank paper, or you can record an informal vote. Since there is nothing on the ballot paper which identifies you, it is not possible to discover who returns the protest/informal votes and no fine is issued. However, if you do not attend the polling place and have your name crossed off, you will get a "please explain" and if your answer is unsatisfactory, you will be fined.

As yet, there is no way to discover who votes and who doesn't but about 95% of those enrolled to vote do so and of that 95% about 5% of the votes are invalid. It seems that people here are keen to have their say but in the UK only about 62% bothered to vote.

Does that reconcile with democracy?
Of course it does. Democracy is "the form of government where supreme power is held completely by the people under a free electoral system." The laws were passed by Australians through their democratically elected representatives.

Squeaks
6th Sep 2008, 08:49
Blue,

Just to compound your problems, it is an offence under Section 329 (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s329.html) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to publish anything that may mislead or deceive a voter in relation to casting a vote: introduced in 1998 to prevent the "Langer Vote". Effectively makes any dissertation relating to informal voting/donkey vote illegal, especially during an election. Your Post #6 could be taken as such by the AEC, if they could be @rsed ;)

:p

Effluent Man
6th Sep 2008, 09:26
Until now I have always wanted to,and voted for four different parties plus a couple of independents.My current thinking is that at the next General Election, for the first time in nearly forty years,I won't.

Der absolute Hammer
6th Sep 2008, 09:33
You do not have to in England?
Then with reference to a previous post, England is no democracy?

Gertrude the Wombat
6th Sep 2008, 09:47
It seems that people here are keen to have their say but in the UK only about 62% bothered to vote.
Lots less than that in most elections.

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 10:06
Looks like I'm really in the poo then, hey Squeaks!!! :( All joking aside, I do find it a bit sad that more people don't take an interest in how their country is governed and in choosing who represents them. They're not so shy about making complaints when things don't go as they'd like, though!

I'd like to see politics and the system of government taught in schools from a reasonably early age. It's true that Parliament House is frequently visited by school groups but nothing seems to be taught in depth. Ask the average teenager about our bicameral system, Black Rod, division bells, or anything else to do with the way we run our state or country ... and they're likely to look lost. If we could get people interested when they're young we would end up with smarter voters and a more knowledgeably critical voting base (as opposed to uninformed whining.)

And maybe a few more people would be prepared to stand up and give it a go themselves. :ok:

Beagle-eye
6th Sep 2008, 11:00
I have voted at every opportunity since I was old enough to do so, and I will continue to vote. Democracy only works if people engage in it.

I really cannot understand people who moan about the “system” and then say that they don’t participate by voting when they get the opportunity.

One thing that has long bothered me is the concept of a “secret” ballot. When arriving to vote you are checked off the electoral role and allocated a number. Whilst it is primarily a measure to ensure that only eligible to vote, it is very easy to examine completed ballot sheets and cross refer back to the electoral role to determine how an individual votes.

I am assured (ha ha) that this doesn’t happen but, as we move towards electronic counting it will become increasingly easy to do so and, seeing how we seem to be sleepwalking into a “Big Brother” society who knows how that information will be used in future ……. I can say that because I live in a democracy and engage in the democratic process :ok:

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 11:28
... and allocated a number.Could you explain that in a bit more detail for me please, Beagle-eye? I'm not sure how this works. Is the number on a card or does it appear on your ballot papers? Do you have to hand it over to someone? What do you actually have to do with this number? How is it that your eligibility to vote is not adequately established by your name appearing on the list?

This is the procedure here in WA ... you front up to the polling station, have your name checked off the list, collect your ballot papers, walk over to the privacy booths to do your voting, then fold your ballot papers and slide them into the relevant boxes. That's it ... quick and easy.

Romeo India Xray
6th Sep 2008, 12:33
I realised I was loosing the weight of my (reasonably) well educated vote when "New Labour" came on the scene. Was I the only person to see this as a pathetic propoganda machine intended to target as many of the uneducated masses as possible in order to pluck votes from those who had no idea what they were doing, much less what the consequences of their actions would be?

Now my vote has been cast with my feet - I have taken myself and my start-up business elsewhere (along with a consequent loss of British jobs), and I am mightly proud to have done so.

I shall not cast a British vote again.

RIX

angels
6th Sep 2008, 12:54
Hi Bluey :ok: - Beagle has brought something up that has always vaguely concerned me.

As someone who always votes (my Dad helped me to by playing an active role in WW2) I've always wondered why you are given a numbered ballot paper, the number of which is then put next to your name and address.

It doesn't especially bother me per se, but its the principle of the thing.

People who can't be arsed to vote, or at least walk to the polling booth to spoil their vote, shouldn't whinge about governments of the day.

Binoculars
6th Sep 2008, 13:45
Never enrolled. Never voted. Respect the predictable view of those who believe I have no right to comment on anything at all, but reject it. Is it not possible the egg came before the chicken? I was so repulsed by the political system at an early age I decided I wasn't going to be a part of it as long as voting was compulsory.

There. That should hand some ammunition to those looking for it.

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 13:54
... given a numbered ballot paper, the number of which is then put next to your name and address.
Ah! Thanks, angels ... that is definitely something I would not be happy about and I don't see why it is necessary. If the powers that be say it is to ensure that qualified people only cast their vote then I think they're stretching the truth. The crossing off of your name on the list should be sufficient ... you're hardly going to give someone else's details are you? :rolleyes:

What happens then if you make a mistake on your ballot paper? Here, you can just fold your papers, hand them back and watch them go into a locked bin, then receive another set to cast your vote. I wouldn't be very happy with that number idea at all.

Der absolute Hammer
6th Sep 2008, 15:00
Have always and with no possibility of exeption always voted for the party which best represents the interests of the.....

K K K

That is to say.......

Kredit Kredit and Kredit.

That is why we are all in this poo stuff!

Lasiorhinus
6th Sep 2008, 16:01
As an officer of the Australian Electoral Commission, I can reassure BlueDiamond and other Australian voters, that there is no way to identify individual ordinary votes at Commonwealth elections. It is possible to identify individual votes made as declaration votes, be they absentee, postal, or pre-poll votes - however, steps are taken to ensure that no individual polling officer sees both the electors name as recorded on the outside of the envelope, and the ballot papers removed from the envelope, at the same time.
We employ high-tech methods to ensure this, namely we turn the envelopes upside down before opening and removing ballot papers.
Independent scrutineers are entitled to be present for this.

I would be opposed to any system such as what Beagle-eye alludes to in Scotland, not because I think polling officials could be bothered putting in the effort during the count at the end of polling day to cross-reference any papers, but simply because the system does not require individual papers to be identifiable. Indeed the very concept of uniquely marking ballot papers runs contrary to the idea of a secret ballot, which in Australia we take to be sacrosanct.


On Compulsory Voting: Yes, it is an offence under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 not to vote:

Section 245
(15) An elector is guilty of an offence if the elector fails to vote at an election.
Penalty: $50.
(15A) Strict liability applies to an offence against subsection (15).


The criteria used by the Electoral Commission to determine whether or not a person has indeed voted, is that the elector has attended a polling place and had their name marked off the Certified List.

What happens after there, is the responsibility of the elector.

Section 233
(1) Except as otherwise prescribed the voter upon receipt of the ballot‑paper shall without delay:
(a) retire alone to some unoccupied compartment of the booth, and there, in private, mark his or her vote on the ballot‑paper;
(b) fold the ballot‑paper so as to conceal his or her vote and:
(i) if the voter is not an absent voter: deposit it in the ballot‑box; or
(ii) if the voter is an absent voter: return it to the presiding officer; and
(c) quit the booth.


What is not defined, is what constitues "marking her or her vote". If the elector wishes to record a vote in such a way that will render the ballot paper informal and unable to be counted, that is indeed their right and privilige. If they record a vote in such a way that no marks whatsoever are placed on the ballot paper, that is their right and privilige.

It is an offence not to vote.

It is not an offence not to vote formally.

Gertrude the Wombat
6th Sep 2008, 16:10
One thing that has long bothered me is the concept of a “secret” ballot. When arriving to vote you are checked off the electoral role and allocated a number. Whilst it is primarily a measure to ensure that only eligible to vote, it is very easy to examine completed ballot sheets and cross refer back to the electoral role to determine how an individual votes.

Re the UK system:

No, it's not "very easy", it requires a court order, and this is a procedure which is very rarely used.

A possible scenario in which it might be used goes as follows:

(1) You turn up at the polling station to vote as usual.
(2) You get told you can't vote because your name is already crossed off, ie someone has stolen your vote.
(3) When the votes are counted there's only one vote in it, ie your vote might have made a difference to the result.

Or are you thinking someone could do this outside the system? Ie, a criminal rather than the system doing it?

When the polls close the ballot box is sealed in the polling station, and representatives of the candidates may observe the sealing process. (In fact we never bother because we trust the people running the polling stations and are in a hurry to get to the count, but in theory we can check.) When the ballot boxes arrive at the count again the representatives of the candidates may observe the boxes to check that the seals haven't been tampered with, so no chance of anyone looking at the votes in transit. (Again we don't bother, but we could.)

From the boxes being opened to the votes being counted and the results being announced there are dozens of eyes on the ballot papers and all the other paperwork, including representatives of the candidates and usually the candidates themselves. Not a lot of scope for anyone getting away with doing anything naughty without being seen, and it's prison if you are seen.

At the conclusion of the count all the paperwork is sealed again and put into secure storage. To be honest I don't know what checks there are on the continuing security of the stored papers because I've never asked ... and I've never asked because it has never occured to me that there's any real likelihood of a problem.

After some time specified by law, long enough for any legal challenges to be entered, the election materials are destroyed.

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 16:11
We employ high-tech methods to ensure this, namely we turn the envelopes upside down before opening and removing ballot papers.
Now there's cutting-edge technology for you!!! :E

Gertrude the Wombat
6th Sep 2008, 16:15
we turn the envelopes upside down before opening and removing ballot papers
Yes, there's some such procedure in the UK re opening postal votes.

It makes the tallying harder for the party workers observing ... but not impossible, it turns out!

BlueDiamond
6th Sep 2008, 16:45
I'm still not quite sure how the numbered ballot paper helps. In the scenario suggested ...

A possible scenario in which it might be used goes as follows:

(1) You turn up at the polling station to vote as usual.
(2) You get told you can't vote because your name is already crossed off, ie someone has stolen your vote.
(3) When the votes are counted there's only one vote in it, ie your vote might have made a difference to the result.
Any investigation will surely only show that A. Voter of 123 Whatever Street, was given ballot paper No. 1234567 and recorded a vote with it. It will not prove whether or not it was the real A. Voter. Everything will actually be correct ... name, address and ballot number so I'm not sure how the numbered papers are helpful in that regard.

angels
6th Sep 2008, 17:02
Not quite sure how it works Bluey.

You do get a voting registration card which I always take along. Because I've never voted without one I don't know what the procedure is when you turn up without it. I know you can vote without it, so presumably there's some form of ID check.

Wiley
6th Sep 2008, 17:27
The Oz system of compulsory voting has been the cause of some bemusement for those from overseas for some years now. It stemmed from a Federal election in (I think) 1922 when they got an 18% turnout. (So cynicism towards our elected representatives seems to have been pretty well established from very early days - and seems not to have changed much in eighty years!)

It has its 'dark side' - not least of which is the so-called 'donkey vote', where the voter starts at the top the ballot paper with a '1' and works his way down. The advantage of appearing at the top of the ballot is officially acknowledged - I think they say it gives a 5% advantage to the candidate who wins the top of the page in the draw (they have a draw to see who gets the top of the page to keep it fair).

What's far more disturbing about the Australian electoral system is the lack of checks and balances on people voting more than once - or on behalf of others, sometimes many others, and quite often more than once, both through postal/absentee voting and simply by going to successive voting stations. It's something that could have been addressed 20+ years ago, with electronic eligible voters' lists where the name would go ‘hatched’ on all terminals at all voting stations once that voter has cast his vote (either by turning up to cast his vote or by submitting an absentee vote).

However, both major parties (or should that be ‘the major parties on both the Left and Right of politics’) have proved to be strangely resistant to this (seemingly simple) measure. Which makes you wonder. It has been widely reported that the unofficial motto of the right wing of the New South Wales Labor (they dropped the ‘u’ thirty-six years ago) Party is “Vote early and vote often”. Given that the Libs and Nats (conservatives) are as “un”keen to fix the problem as Labor is, you have to ask whether they’re not as deeply into this practice as some parts of the ALP are reputed to have been all these years.

As has happened in electorates in the UK with a majority of voters from an Indian/Pakistani background, where practices along these lines have been reported to be widespread, so too in Oz, the problem seems to be more blatant among first and second generation newcomers. That’s not to say the ‘true blue Aussies’ haven’t been up to their back teeth in it for many years – they’ve just been a little more subtle about it.

I think the practice is so widespread in some electorates that it has become the elephant in the room no one dare acknowledge. If someone did, so many status quos would be threatened, everyone chooses to ignore it so their particular gravy train stays safely on the rails.



Back to compulsory voting: it’s always been said that it favours the Left (in Australia, the ALP), particularly since they (the ALP) reduced the voting age to 18. Most 18 year olds vote Labor/Labour because they are fresh from high school where they’ve been fed a constant diet of anti-conservative propaganda by their teachers – or perhaps because of the old truism: “show me a man who’s not a socialist at 20 and I’ll show you a man with no heart. Show me man who’s still a socialist at 40 and I’ll show you a man with no brain.” Unfortunately, in Australia, by the time many reach 40, they’ve been living on government handouts of one description or another all or most of their adult lives and think, perhaps not without good cause, that if they don’t vote Labor, their particular gravy train, meagre as it might be for some, might stop.

Gertrude the Wombat
6th Sep 2008, 17:27
Any investigation will surely only show that A. Voter of 123 Whatever Street, was given ballot paper No. 1234567 and recorded a vote with it. It will not prove whether or not it was the real A. Voter. Everything will actually be correct ... name, address and ballot number so I'm not sure how the numbered papers are helpful in that regard.
I will be able to prove that I'm me.

The voting paper supposedly cast by me will be able to identified[#].

If the court is convinced that it wasn't me who cast that vote then they might, I think, be able to order that that ballot is invalid, and instead how I want to vote should be recorded, or perhaps order a re-election - I don't know the law here, I just know the election mechanics and that this procedure exists but is essentially never used.

[#]The ballot paper has a serial number on it. The stub in the book from which it was torn has the same serial number on it. My voter number is written on the back of the stub by the clerk when the ballot is handed to me. So to find my ballot paper you need access to both the ballot papers and the book of stubs, and the patience to sort through thousands of papers until you find the right one.

Gertrude the Wombat
6th Sep 2008, 17:32
You do get a voting registration card which I always take along. Because I've never voted without one I don't know what the procedure is when you turn up without it. I know you can vote without it, so presumably there's some form of ID check.
In the UK, you state your name and address. There is no ID check.

The systems should be designed to be no more complicated than is needed to meet the threat, and the level of "personation" (someone turning up at a polling station and stealing a vote by claiming to be someone else) in the UK is (leaving aside from Northern Ireland where they have a tradition of this sort of behaviour) so tiny that forcing people to produce ID has so far been thought unnecessary. It would certainly reduce turnout, as people would turn up with no ID, be denied a vote, and simply go down the pub rather than bothering to trek all the way back to the polling station once they'd gone home and found some ID. Recall that the UK (unlike places like France) is not a police state and there is no requirement for people to carry ID around with them.

However ... the threat is seen to be increasing and there are currently calls for a review of this system.

7x7
7th Sep 2008, 03:57
The idea of a computer-based electoral roll, where each name become inactive after that person votes, rather than the multiple paper rolls, is surely worth introducing?

Or maybe not if "they" are concerned at the outcry when God knows how many people turn up to vote and find someone's already done so for them? Do they ever do a cross check, even a sample one, to see how many people voted twice? It would be a hell of a job using multiple paper electoral rolls, verging on the impossible.

Lasiorhinus
7th Sep 2008, 04:25
Do they ever do a cross check, even a sample one, to see how many people voted twice? It would be a hell of a job using multiple paper electoral rolls, verging on the impossible.

In Australia at least, yes, we do a complete and thorough check every single election.

When you go to a polling place and have your name marked off the roll, a small black line is recorded against your name.
After the election (usually starting by the Monday or Tuesday), every single sheet of paper from every single roll at every single polling place in every single electorate is fed into a special scanner.
Each page carries a unique barcode, and from this, the computer can read the small black lines, and determine who's name was marked off.

This does take quite a while to scan, given the sheer volume of paper, but once it is done, the computer has a very accurate record of who's name was marked off, who's name was not, and who voted more than once.
This is the process required to determine who to issue fines for not voting, and who to send "please explain" letters to, if they voted more than once.

BlueDiamond
7th Sep 2008, 07:07
Do you know when that system became available, Lasiorhinus? Many moons ago ... ten years at least ... I got caught out miles away from my own electorate and just ducked in to the first polling station I found to do my voting. Some time later I got a "Please Explain" from the Electoral Commission as it appeared that I hadn't voted. It was easily cleared up, of course ... all I had to do was tell them where I'd voted and the problem was solved, but I was just wondering why the system didn't pick it up.

Lasiorhinus
7th Sep 2008, 08:26
If you voted interstate, it can take a very long time for the paperwork to get back to your home division - they may have accidentally sent out the letter before they'd finished processing interstate envelopes.

If it was somewhere else in the same state, but absentee, it should have been quicker, but sounds like a mistake was made.

As far as I know, the electronic scanning has been in place at least fifteen years, but Ive only been with them since 2001.

A seperate copy of the roll is used to mark off people who vote absentee/interstate/overseas, so in theory it should all come out in the same scanning, unless for whatever reason they scanned the last roll without marking your name off. Sometimes the officer marking the roll puts the mark next to the wrong name, resulting in usually *two* please explain letters.
Human error, that we try to minimise, but unfortunately sometimes one slips through.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

sisemen
7th Sep 2008, 09:02
And I'll bet that "Happy" Carps is wishing that voting wasn't compulsory

(Note for non-Western Australians - Alan Carpenter, the Labor Premier of Western Australia (until last night) and known as "Happy" because he's a miserable, arrogant sod, called this election way, way early seeking to capitalise on disarray in the Liberal (conservative) party, and to avoid scrutiny by the electorate on raft of dodgy issues which were conveniently due to be reported after the election. He miscalculated. We now appear to have a hung parliament with the probability of Labor retaining power most unlikely)

Lasiorhinus
7th Sep 2008, 09:13
Did he lose his own seat, though? (Like last time a government was thrown out on their ear)

BlueDiamond
7th Sep 2008, 09:53
Thanks, Lasiorhinus ... it didn't bother me, I was just curious as to how it might have happened. (I was 600Km away but still in the same state.)

Did he lose his own seat, though?
I haven't actually looked at any results yet but that would be highly unlikely. Carpenter's seat is right in the middle of a group of dyed-in-the-wool Labor suburbs. It would take something cataclysmic for the inhabitants to change their vote ... Willagee is regarded as a very safe seat. If Carpenter loses that, it will be a huge shock for Labor.

Wiley
7th Sep 2008, 09:58
Any idea of the numbers/percentages/most offending electorates of voters who voted twice (or more)?

Lasiorhinus
7th Sep 2008, 11:05
Looks like Willagee actually had a 0.6% swing TO Labor...

I dont have any figures for people voting twice, but despite all the conspiracy theories, hardly anyone does. It's very, very rare.

General figures nationwide are, 95% of electors vote at a general election, but only 80% bother to show up for a by-election, such as those in Lyne and Mayo yesterday.

Between 3% and 5% of votes are informal - either incompletely marked, blank, or with obscene messages written on them.

Donkey votes - those numbered sequentially from the top of the ballot to the bottom, are not counted as such specifically, as they are recorded as formal votes for the candidate listed against the number one. As Wiley said, estimates are as much as a 5% bonus can be gained by being the first candidate listed on the ballot paper.

Incidentally, if you choose to run for election, you must lodge a deposit with the Electoral Commission. If you poll higher than 4% of the primary vote, you get your deposit back.

BlueDiamond
7th Sep 2008, 11:21
Well, according to this evening's news, it's all still in the balance and looking like a Hung Parliament. The minor parties and independents have all done very well leaving neither of the two major parties capable of forming government on their own. This puts Brendon Grylls (the leader of the nationals) in a powerful position as he negotiates with Carpenter (Labor) and Barnett (Liberal) for a coalition government. Traditionally, the Nationals have always aligned themselves with the Liberals and a Labor/National coalition has never happened before. Things are about to become very interesting indeed hereabouts!

S'land
7th Sep 2008, 12:31
A very interesting thread. I have now (as a British Citizen) learnt what takes place in a UK polling station. The only time that I ever went to vote was the first time that I was eligible to do so. After that I always had a postal vote as I was never at home when there was an election.

Up until 1990 I always used my postal vote. Since then I have not been resident in he UK, so cannot vote. However, as a citizen of an EU country residing in another EU country I am allowed to vote for the local MEP. The first time I did this I was living in Italy and have been trying to forget the event ever since.

James 1077
8th Sep 2008, 04:45
In the UK I generally voted by postal vote as it was easier than finding the local polling station.

I haven't voted since moving back to NZ but am enrolled and will head down to the polling station when the time comes to give Helen a good kicking.

The one time I didn't vote (I was on an extended holiday) Labour got in and I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if the same thing happened again due to me not voting (ie my one vote swings the election).


With respect to voting systems I think that it should be a legal requirement to be enrolled but making it against the law to not vote is anti-democratic as far as I'm concerned; although compulsion would be OK if it accompanied a "None of the above" box where, if None of the above won, the election would be reopened to new candidates.

I also think that any system where you could, potentially, match somebody's vote to their name is wrong. Unfortunately most Western systems have numbered ballot papers which makes the process less democratic as it is no longer a secret ballot.