I received a letter from the Electoral Commission of South Australia on Friday, reminding me that voting on March 20 is compulsory and letting me know where to vote.
According to the commission’s website, the letter is meant to be sent from Monday, March 15 to all electors.
A total of 1,092,762 South Australians are enrolled to vote.
At the standard postage rate of 55 cents a letter, that’s a mail-out cost of $601,019 plus printing, maybe a million dollars altogether, even if the postage was discounted.
It’s unnecessary expenditure, in my opinion.
However, the letter contained two new pieces of information.
The electoral commission has established an SMS reminder service, where people can register for a free reminder to vote.
Again, I say this is an unnecessary expense. You’d have to be living under a rock in the Simpson Desert to not realise there is an election next Saturday.
It’s like some organisations adopt technology for the sake of it, simply because they can and they think they should. I can’t see any strategic communications benefit in providing this “service”.
The other new item was an “Easy Voting Card” (pictured below).
Electors are asked to present the card (a cut-out ticket) when they vote. Presumably it simplifies identification, although I’ve never been asked for photo ID previously when voting. Usually, you just have to declare that you are who you say you are, and that you haven’t voted previously.
A message alongside the “Easy Voting Card” says: “You can vote without this card but it may take longer”.
I don’t mind tightening up identification for voting. People should be asked to present a licence, credit card, tax return or Medicare card. If they don’t have any of those, there should be the option of special electoral ID on application.
Or maybe we should have a national identification system?