The Liberal National Party could be removed from government at the next federal election if all Australians were required to be double vaccinated in order to enter a polling booth.
Currently this is not the case. At the recent local government elections, voters were allowed to enter polling booths without showing proof of vaccination. If voters were required to show proof of vaccination, or proof of legitimate exemption, this would prohibit many people from voting and cost the Liberal National Party (LNP) many votes.
Do loonies vote Liberal?
Not necessarily. But anti-vaxxers and anti-lockdown protestors are more likely to vote for the loonie parties upon which the LNP relies. The Coalition accepts preferences from many of the fringe parties and rely on these preferences in order to win elections at state and federal level.
Political analysts tell us that the Coalition won the unwinnable federal election in 2019 thanks largely to the preferences from Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) in Queensland. Palmer is one of the loonies challenging pandemic laws and has recruited Craig Kelly from the Coalition. Kelly is a famous opponent of vaccines, vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related rules, and is the most high profile candidate in the UAP. Ironically, if Kelly attracts many votes, he could help his former party to win the election.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party has also sided with those opposing pandemic laws and some of her candidates direct their preferences to the LNP. Consequently, Scott Morrison has failed to publicly and unequivocally condemn anti-lockdown and anti-vaxxer protests because his operatives know that his party needs their vote.
At the recent local government elections, one voter was overheard commenting,
“You can’t get into a cafe without proof of vaccination, but you can get into a polling booth.”
Why is this?
If an unvaccinated person can spread COVID-19 in a cafe, surely they can spread COVID-19 in a polling booth. This presents a significant medical risk in a country in which voting is compulsory. Some voters could be immunocompromised and thus face the risk of contracting COVID-19, or being issued with a fine if they don’t vote.
They can vote online.
Yes, the loonies could vote online. Australians can register for ivote and the anti-vaxxers could still vote for the fringe parties via online voting. This, however, requires voters to take the initiative and complete this process well in advance of the upcoming election. If the loonies don’t vote at all, without a legitimate exemption, they would be issued with a fine in accordance with Australian law. Perhaps the threat of a significant fine would convince some people to get jabbed.
Is it lawful?
I don’t know. I’m not a lawyer or an expert in constitutional law. However, news from around the world suggest that other countries have prohibited unvaccinated people from entering certain places or enjoying certain rights that are available to vaccinated people. Thus, it should be possible to act according to the same principles in Australia. If loonies can vote online, they are not technically being denied the right to vote in a democratic country.
A dangerous precedent?
Have the local government elections established a dangerous precedent? When people find out that unvaccinated people were allowed into polling booths, will they demand access to other indoor spaces which currently require proof of vaccination? Many business owners publicly stated their intention to reject the ruling and to allow everyone to enter their premises whether vaccinated or not. If these owners cited the polling booth example, surely they would have a case…
Therefore, if people make a conscious choice not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, should they be prevented from entering a polling booth? And, if so, would this harm the LNP which relies heavily on the preferences of the fringe parties which are likely to attract the anti-vaxxer vote?
Will it happen?
Probably not. The people who would make this law are the very people who rely on the loonie vote for their political survival.
We could change the law, or we could allow double vaccinated people to vote twice.
Image: Darren England