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Are we there yet? Well, almost

2 May 2019 at 7:15 am
Jo Scard
Early voting may have a significant impact on democracy, but there are still two and a half weeks to have a say, writes Jo Scard from Fifty Acres.

Jo Scard | 2 May 2019 at 7:15 am


Are we there yet? Well, almost
2 May 2019 at 7:15 am

Early voting may have a significant impact on democracy, but there are still two and a half weeks to have a say, writes Jo Scard from Fifty Acres.

The sad thing about elections is that over 20 per cent of people start engaging in the last week of the campaign and around 6 per cent plus make an informal vote, many doing so intentionally.

Every election more people are choosing to pre-poll (vote prior to the election day) – 122,771 people voted on the first day the polls opened on Monday this week. That’s up from 66,894 on the first day of polling in 2016, close to double. In 2016, 31 per cent pre-polled – expect that to be up this time around.

The thing is that three weeks of early voting has a significant impact on democracy. How so?

The main reason for the uptake of early voting seems to be convenience and it is certainly changing the structure of our traditional election campaign. Candidates are spending more time at pre-polling stations and less time interacting with the community. Voters are casting their votes before all the policy costings have been revealed. It’s a very imperfect system.

One of the biggest shifts is that parties are announcing their more popular promises far earlier – think this year’s federal budget offerings or the Opposition’s cancer package and commitment to increasing the number of electric cars.

So it’s 16 more sleeps until we, hopefully, get a result. If you are, like me, an election night tragic then it’ll be a fascinating night. The Senate count will take days based on the complex preference deals in play, with the Nationals/One Nation and Liberals/United Australia Party as well as dozens of swaps among independents and smaller parties. Based on the polls it’s still more likely than not that we are looking at a change of government, but the intense pressure of campaigns and slip-ups can sometimes bring results we didn’t anticipate.

There are two and a half weeks to still have a say – engage local candidates positively via social media, speak to them when you see them at events or at pre-poll stations. Let them know what your organisations think, introduce yourself and use it as a segue to say that you will make contact with them post-election.

If all that is done and dusted and you are just, perhaps like all of us, a little impatiently awaiting an outcome then there are other things that you can be getting on with:

  • Post-election it could be a new landscape, or at least, a new Coalition lineup. Use these valuable next few weeks to reset, regroup, rethink, make sure your plan is substantial enough for the long term. Substantiate your asks with data and develop comprehensive thinking around your needs and funding or policy requirements.
  • Now is your chance to reset if you need to. Develop and strengthen your narrative to articulate a campaign for the long term, one that will take you through to the election after this one. A simple, clear and demonstrably strong voice that speaks directly to all your stakeholders.
  • If you haven’t already determined the vision, what does the future look like? What’s your ask?
  • I’ll keep saying this but one thing we do know is that waiting for something to happen never helps. To advocate for your cause you need to roll your sleeves up and do just that, advocate. Get ready.

I’ll leave you with this – If we can get humans to the moon then why can’t we solve simpler, more immediate problems?

We need an entrepreneurial state with ambitious goals to shape the economy and solve problems like climate change, poverty and inequality in health. We need to help to convince them, that’s our job.

To help focus your post-election efforts I will be holding a series of half-day face-to-face Fifty Acres Academy workshops all over the country in May and June.

The workshops will help not for profits and for-good businesses and organisations frame your post-election action by guiding you through the steps needed to develop an end-to-end government engagement strategy for success in 2019 and beyond.

More information about the post-election workshops here:

If you want help to navigate the political landscape, or come up with a winning engagement or strategic communications strategy, get in touch with Jo Scard at Fifty Acres on 02 6281 7350 or visit

Jo Scard  |  @ProBonoNews

Jo Scard is the founder and managing director of Fifty Acres.

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