They Vote For You: “dishonest”?

A common query we get over email or social media is how we choose what bills appear on They Vote For You and why we don’t just include every bill that passes through Parliament. Occasionally, these queries are accompanied by accusations of dishonesty, inaccuracy, bias and more.

As much as I’d love to dismiss these accusations outright, the fact is that there is a problem with the voting data that’s available in Australia – a problem that we’ve discussed on this blog before (including why a policy you care about may not be on the site).

The problem in a nutshell is that They Vote For You uses parliamentary voting data, but right now our Parliament only records data for formal votes (known as divisions). This is despite the fact that the majority of votes in Parliament are actually made ‘on the voices’, which is when our Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators shout ‘AYE!’ or ‘NO!’ and whichever side shouts the loudest wins.

In other words, right now we have no record of how our representatives are voting most of the time, and so have no way to hold them properly accountable for their actions.

Whole bills can and do pass through Parliament without any voting data being recorded, which means they won’t show up on They Vote For You at all.

This is a serious problem that needs to be solved.

One possible solution would be for Parliament to introduce electronic voting so that it can maintain a full voting record without slowing up procedures too much. We even wrote to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure about this last year when they were holding an inquiry into electronic voting. But their response wasn’t promising.

If you agree that we should have access to a full voting record – rather than just part of the story – you can write to your representatives yourself and ask them to support the introduction of electronic voting. Or maybe you have other ideas about how to hold them properly accountable. If so, we’d love to hear from you.

How do you think we can make our representatives more accountable for how they vote in Parliament?


And Remember! They Vote For You can be edited by anyone – including you! Simply sign up and start editing.


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