Australia's Adoption of Compulsory Voting: Revising the Narrative - not Trailblazing, Uncontested or Democratic

Sarah John, Donald DeBats

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Presentations of the history of Australian democracy inevitably dwell on the innovative and early democratic practices of the colonies and, later, the nation. Compulsory voting is typically placed in this frame. This article challenges three key pillars of the accepted narrative of the Australian adoption of compulsory voting by placing nineteenth-century debates over the mandatory franchise in the Australian colonies in the context of other similar democracies in North America. It shows that compulsory voting debates in the colonies were contentious, protracted and motivated by negative experiences of democracy and a desire to limit or order democracy to ensure that engaged minorities did not overwhelm an apathetic majority.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-27
    Number of pages27
    JournalAustralian Journal of Politics and History
    Volume60
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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