Vic man seeks end to compulsory voting

It's time to end compulsory voting, says a Victorian regional councillor who has kept up an almost 20-year campaign.

A Victorian politician is engaged in a one-man battle against compulsory voting.

Ben Buckley is an East Gippsland councillor and former Omeo shire president.

The experienced bush pilot, whose claim to fame was flying an ultralight from Australia to New Zealand, is not one to shirk a challenge.

The policy of his political party, the Liberal Democrats, is to make voting a right rather than an obligation.

Just as free speech and freedom of association does not imply a requirement to speak or join a club, the freedom to vote should not imply a requirement to vote, he says.

Mr Buckley first objected to voting at the 1996 federal election and has been doing so at state and national polls ever since.

"I haven't logged how many times I've been to court over this issue," he told AAP on Wednesday.

"I object to being expected in a democracy to express an opinion under threat of prosecution."

His latest case will go to the Omeo Magistrates Court on June 25.

Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, failing to vote "without valid or sufficient reason" comes with a maximum fine of $50.

Mr Buckley said he was casting around for a defence, initially looking at whether Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities applies.

The charter recognises the "right to taking part in public life", such as voting and running for office.

He's also looked at Section 80 of the constitution, which deals with the entitlement to a trial by jury.

"If you've got a right to vote, you should have a right not to vote," he said.

Australia is one of only five OECD countries to have enforced compulsory voting, putting it at odds with more than 120 others including the US, UK and New Zealand.

2 min read
Published 3 June 2015 at 1:24pm
Source: AAP