So, I’ve finished my mad dash from the north of Norway, to Stockholm, in order to vote in one of the only two locations in Scandinavia and the Baltics that Australia makes available (the other being Copenhagen). Australia typically only provides voting facilities in embassies, and as Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania only have honorary Australian consulates, there’s no opportunity to vote in any of those countries (unless, of course, you have a permanent address there, and thus can get a postal vote).
The voting process was all very straightforward – a room had been set up on the ground floor of the building which houses the embassy, so there was no need to pass through any faux-security measures in order to get in, unlike when I voted in The Hague back in 2001.
No identification was required, as is typical for Australian elections – it was just a matter of completing what was probably a postal vote envelope, and then filling out the ballot papers. The electoral officer then explained how to vote on each paper – the instructions were accurate, though I felt she emphasised a little too strongly that the Senate ballot paper was big, which I suspect caused a couple of people who followed me to vote above the line. That said, she did point out that all the group ticket preference allocations were available for people to read, if they wanted. I always vote below the line, so I didn’t have any need for this.
I was amazed, however, at a question from one of the other voters in the room: “This isn’t for local elections, is it?”. Seriously, I know I’m more attuned to politics than the average person, but a question like this is probably a good argument for compulsory civics lessons in schools. I find it somewhat unbelievable that state schools still brainwash children with religious education, but fail to teach them the basics of how our democracy works.