In the United States the Republicans and to a lesser extent the Democrats have attempted to rig elections by gerrymandering district boundaries1. That is difficult to do in Australia because of the independence of the Australian Electoral Commission. Its aim is “to maintain an impartial and independent electoral system for eligible voters through active electoral roll management, efficient delivery of polling services and targeted education and public awareness programs”2. It does not have the authority to conduct candidate eligibility checks. Those are done by the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) which is supposed to enforce the eligibility parameters detailed in Section 44 of the Constitution. Given the still unfolding shemozzle that is the citizenship debacle, it seems the AGD have been a bit lax in their enforcement.
Another recent tactics used by the Republicans in the US to attempt to fix elections is to somehow pervert the Voting Rights Act. Prior to 2006, no state in the US required photographic identification. As of early 2017, 10 states had that requirement and another 23 states have some form of voter identification rules on the books. These lower the election turnout of minorities, and thereby benefit the Republican party. The proponents of these laws say they are necessary to reduce voter fraud, something for which there has been very little evidence and certainly very few convictions. With the appalling behaviour of the Conservative Party in the UK, they are beginning to look like electoral poison, so they too are starting to look at voter identification laws5.
Given the Turnbull government’s 31stlosing Newspoll, and their fractious backbench, some of whom seem to be bent on destroying Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership at all costs, the government will be scouting around for a way to increase their chances of fixing the election. I expect that the government will start looking into disenfranchising people who are unlikely to vote for them in a federal election. It will initially begin as talk of voter fraud, which will be blown out of all proportion to the facts. Then the government will say this is a huge problem, and that to save our democracy, they will have to have voter identification laws, thereby disenfranchising some people. This is the antithesis of democracy. But this doesn’t matter when you are only concerned about retaining power.