The Australian Electoral Commission is the place where the process that puts Australian Politicians in their places in Parliament is organised. You wouldn’t visit it for the fine architecture, or for a tour of its labyrinth of offices or for a chat with its large force of functionaries. You probably couldn’t! Most of it has a locked down, closed off, “secret electioneers business” air about it.
However, if you’re a twelve-year-old future voter, a visit to the Australian Electoral Commission’s Education Centre is well worthwhile.
A tour begins in the theatrette, with a DVD on the history of elections in Australia, from the time when only landowners could vote, until the referendum in 1967 which, officially and nationally, extended the vote to all aboriginals and effected universal suffrage.
Then it’s off to the next room to learn all about the Who? Why? How?, Where? and When of the electoral process, at a series of brightly colour-coded activity stations.
The culmination of the programme is a mock election with all the paraphernalia – polling booth ballot box, ballot paper and tally board. The candidates are four students (dubbed apples, pears, peaches and bananas) and the guards, scrutineers, vote-counters and voters are the remaining twenty-six. After much juggling of the fruits, much recounting and redistributing of votes, we all get the principles of preferences and absolute majority – I think!