Voting Rights and Australian Local Democracy
28 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2018 Last revised: 7 Feb 2019
Date Written: September 26, 2017
ABSTRACT: In five of Australia’s six States, legislation governing the franchise at local government elections allows for voting rights based partly on property ownership or occupation, for votes for corporations, and for various forms of plural voting. There is no existing comprehensive nationwide catalogue and analysis of the legislation that underpins this phenomenon. This article fills the gap in the literature by providing that analysis. Part I provides a concise overview of the historical context in Britain and in Australia. Part II is the central contribution of the article, describing and analyzing the legislation across the six Australian States. Part II demonstrates the idiosyncratic complexity of local government franchises within and across the States. While this article’s primary goal is to critique the legislation as it stands, Part III concisely makes the case for reform of voting rights at local government elections, suggesting that the status quo raises concerns about democratic inequality.
Keywords: Local Government, Local Government Elections, Voting Rights, Property Franchise, Public Law, Democracy
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