Over the past week, the federal government has been fighting backlash over their proposed voter ID laws, which, as the name suggests, would require voters to prove their identity before casting their ballot. The coalition wants the laws in place before next year’s election.
The federal opposition is categorically against the proposed reforms, which they say would discriminate against disenfranchised communities like Indigenous Australians, the homeless, and individuals fleeing domestic violence.
ID requirements are not strenuous – identification can be in the form of bank cards or recent bills. Alternatively, if a voter is unable to produce a form of physical ID, they can have another individual (who does have ID) fill out a form verifying their identity. Or as a last resort, they can sign a declaration with their ballot and submit a ‘declaration vote’.
But the point is that Australia doesn’t really need these kinds of laws. We all recall the omnipresent bleating of Trump supporters claiming a rigged election in 2020. Sure, the Trump era and its conclusion led to America experiencing a loss of trust in the voting process. And sure, some of this may have leaked into Australia.
But only minimally. Australia is not America, and confidence in our voting system’s integrity is strong across the population.
Voter ID laws target instances of multiple voting, and in our last federal election in 2019, Australia’s instance of multiple voting sat at 0.03%. That’s just 19 verified instances of multiple voting.
The apparent unnecessary nature of these laws in Australia have led many to call the proposal ‘Trumpian’ and anti-democratic – there’s no problem to solve, and the legislation will likely just create more issues.
Labor senator Tim Ayres has stated “We have a system we should be very proud of – why we would want to insert US segregationist Jim Crowe legislation to corrupt the Australian ballot process, I have no idea.”
Indigenous Australians often don’t have birth certificates or formal identification, and many in rural communities do not have official addresses or drivers’ licenses, limiting their ability to fulfil ID requirements.
And the apparent discriminatory undertones aren’t helped by Pauline Hanson’s declarations that she was instrumental in the proposal. Hanson claims that she made voter ID legislation a condition of her support for a bill relating to financial statements in political campaigns.
“It wouldn’t be happening without me,” Hanson stated. “I’ve had a gutful … I’m instrumental in this parliament.”
The proposed bill doesn’t seem to be ‘earth-shattering’, as Prime Minister Morrison has asserted. But its effects will be felt most strongly by communities already facing barriers to voting, and the ‘integrity’ payoff will likely be insignificant.
Follow Maddie’s journalism journey on Twitter.