Dr Terry Stokes

Andrew Charlton repeats the myth that voting in Australian national elections is compulsory (‘Too Much Information’, May 2011). It isn’t. Eligible electors are obliged to enrol, and they are obliged on (or before) polling day to have their name struck off the roll. Nothing more. There is no obligation to accept a voting paper nor, having done so, to do anything in particular with it. It is perfectly licit, for example, to tear the voting paper up in plain sight of officials and throw it in the bin. Queuing on a Saturday for half-an-hour or so is a pretty small civic obligation – and there is no obligation to vote if no candidate seems worthy. (It is, however, illegal to encourage people to do this.)

Dr Terry Stokes

East Melbourne, VIC