First time voting? Here’s what you need to know about the 2022 election

It’s Election Day this Saturday, and for all the fresh 18-year-olds out there, this might be the first opportunity to make their voice heard.

Whether you’re excited to cast your vote, or keen to get it over with and tuck into a democracy sausage, there’s a few things you’ll need to know before the Federal Election this Saturday.

If it’s your first time voting, you need to have enrolled to vote before the 18th of April this year to vote in the 2022 Federal Election. If you didn’t get your enrolment in on time, don’t stress, you won’t be fined or anything like that. But you will miss out on your chance to have your say this time round.

Australian election
Image via SBS

Does everyone’s vote count?

If you’re wondering whether it’s even worth voting since there are 25 million odd people in Australia so your vote practically means nothing in comparison, boy have we got some good news for you.

You’re not actually voting for a prime minister, you’re voting for the seat in your electorate, which can often come down to a handful of votes to determine the outcome. As a result, the leader of the party that gains the most seats is then sworn in as prime minister.

However, if you decide to draw a giant dick on your ballot paper, no, your vote will not count.

So if I can’t draw a dick on my ballot, wtf am I meant to do with it?

You’ve got two options. Voting above the line, or voting below the line. Most people choose to take the easy way out and vote at the top of the ballot, but if you’re feeling brave, voting below the line is definitely an option.

In Australia, we’ve got something called a preferential voting system, meaning you can vote for parties in the order you like them.

So you write numbers from 1 to 6, giving your fave party a fat (but readable) number 1, then your second favourite gets a number 2, and so on until you reach number 6.

The votes are counted in several different rounds, and the party with the least number of votes is knocked out each round. So if your first preference is knocked out early, your vote will then go to your second preference. Then if your second fave is cut in the second round, your vote goes to your third preference etc. etc.

Voting below the line follows a similar patter, except instead of numbering the major parties from 1 to 6, you can number up to 12 boxes containing every single candidate running for the Senate in your state.

What the heck does left-wing and right-wing mean?

You may have heard the terms left-wing and right-wing thrown around a fair bit in the lead up to the election, so what do they even mean?

Well, traditionally left-leaning parties like to implement social change at a quicker rate compared to right-wing parties who like to slowly make social changes.

So who are the main parties and what do they stand for?

The two major parties in Australia are Labor and Liberal. Scott Morrison is the leader of the Liberal Party who are currently in power.

Meanwhile, Labor are led by Anthony Albanese who is currently the opposition leader of Australia, meaning he leads the party who received the second most votes at the previous election.

Labor formed from worker’s union movements in the late 1800’s, with policies that often focus on worker’s rights with an approach that is considered centre-left party on the political spectrum.

On the flip side, Liberal are considered to be centre-right, meaning they don’t like to rush social change, but they aren’t completely opposed to considering them.

In recent years, the Greens have gathered a fair bit of traction with young voters wanting to make a difference to the environment, which is the forefront of the Greens’ policies. The party, led by Adam Bandt, is one of Australia’s most left-leaning parties, hoping to take action towards social change.

Polls open at 8am on Saturday and close at 6pm. Head to your closest public school to vote, unless you are isolating for COVID-19, in which case you can apply to vote over the phone instead.

For more information about how to vote, head over to the Australian Electoral Commission website.