A vote for voluntary voting
Derryn Hinch is right to describe Australia's system of compulsory voting as undemocratic.
For many, staying home is itself an act of political expression, a vote of no confidence in our entire political class.
Hinch's attitude is perfectly understandable. It is very easy to be cynical about politics today.
Our leaders do little more than attack their opponents in focus-grouped soundbites.
The national interest is subverted to the political interests of particular individuals and parties, while attention to policy is fleeting.
But it doesn't have to be this way. The quality of political debate in our country is being corrupted by our system of compulsory voting.
Despite 14 million voters federally, elections are effectively decided by a few hundred voters in a handful of seats.
Many swing voters genuinely change their mind on the basis of some rational measure.
But just as many regularly change their minds because they can barely tell the difference.
We all know voters like this. If asked which party has a certain flagship policy, they are just as likely to tell you the opposite party.
These people have my full sympathy.
Ignorance of politics is not a sin. If politics doesn't interest you, that is a perfectly legitimate view to take.
But the sad truth of our current system is that the least informed and least engaged have the biggest impact on election results.
And the worst part is that our politicians know this. They tailor their tired attack points to appeal to those voters who might catch a snippet of the news one night in four.
The major parties have developed technologies to target this handful of voters that would shock the public if it understood them.
This is exactly why political debate has become so tedious and toxic, so much so that compulsory voting has become a threat to the health of our democracy.
With voluntary voting, our politicians couldn't win elections by being less worse than the other guy.
No seat could be neglected as "safe" because even partisan voters must be motivated. In short, the quality of public debate would be raised.
It's time we were given the right to stay at home on election day, whether it's because we don't care or we want to send a message to all parties.
We should demand this freedom so that if no party appeals to us we won't have to vote at all.