A vote of no confidence (VONC) is a kind of a donkey vote where the voter would go and cross out all candidates and write the words “NO SUITABLE CANDIDATE TO FOLLOW MY WILL” on the ballot paper. The idea behind it is to force a new election with new candidates and bam, you got a new government. Well that’s the idea, but would it work?
Now for the scenario at a polling booth where people are walking in ready to vote.
There’s people campaigning for the candidates in those electorates, and there’s guys campaigning for VONC.
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) administers the conduct of federal elections under the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. There are a range of offences that could earn you a pecuniary penalty, or worse land you in gaol. Section 340 of that Act – Prohibition of canvassing near polling booths which states:
(1) The following acts are, on polling day, and on all days to which the polling is adjourned, prohibited at an entrance of or within a polling booth, or in any public or private place within 6 metres of an entrance of a polling booth, namely:
(a) canvassing for votes; or
(b) soliciting the vote of any elector; or
(c) inducing any elector not to vote for any particular candidate; or
(d) inducing any elector not to vote at the election; or
(e) exhibiting any notice or sign (other than an official notice) relating to the election.
Penalty: 5 penalty units…. (section continues)
So if you stay six (6) metres away from the entrance of a polling booth, you might just avoid gaol or at minimum avoid a penalty.
So here you are promoting VONC a minimum of 6 metres from the entrance, and people are walking in and you’re instructing people how to vote to force a new election with new candidates. A Liberal or Labor voter walks past you and you tell them to vote VONC, they look at you in dismay because someone intending on voting LNP or ALP are obviously happy with the current political situation, so why would they even consider a VONC vote? They head on in and vote for one of the majors.
Now a disillusioned voter walks up, they intend on voting for a minor party or independent because they’ve had enough of self serving politicians from the major parties. Now he’s already disillusioned, it wouldn’t take much to convince him to vote VONC, so he votes VONC.
So what has just happened?
The major got their vote (or gets set aside), while the minor party or independent missed out, effectively helping the major in a big way. The only individual a VONC vote helped was one standing under one of the major parties, and in doing so, helped put the minor or independent at a disadvantage.
Then the second challenge. Even if you manage to convince ALP and LNP voters to vote VONC, just look at the sheer number of people who need to vote VONC for it to work. For current purposes it’s just over 8 million people, with just over 16 million Australians enrolled to vote in total. It is almost impossible that 8 million people would vote VONC, let alone consider it.
Don’t waste your vote no matter how appealing VONC sounds. Vote a minor or an independent, because a vote of no confidence will most certainly help the majors get in. The poor independent misses out by VONC pedlars. Simply put, VONC is not the answer no matter how many people vote VONC. Where is it stated in law to guarantee a new election with new candidates?
Could this be a ploy by government operatives to undermine the popularity minor parties and independents have gained? The Sydney Morning Herald stated in 2016; “To now, the highest share of the vote for the minors was 27 per cent. Today’s poll sets a new record high for them of 34 per cent. A gain of a quarter on the old record.” Think about it, that’s a 7% increase of votes to “others.” Now imagine another 7% increase to minors and independents this coming election.