NSW has local government elections this weekend. It's tempting not to make the effort to vote, especially if you're overseas. But be careful -- if you don't vote and don't pay the fine either, it can affect other key documents, including your driver's licence.
Picture by Fran Tapia
Expat Aussie Jo White recounts how she didn't vote in the last Federal election, and the fine that was issued never reached her because of a mail kerfuffle. She wasn't worried:
I did, honestly, forget all about it. *Until* (that’s a big UNTIL) I went back to Australia for a visit and got a new piece of mail telling me my drivers license had been suspended due to my non-payment of fines. Yeah? I didn’t pay a fine? I investigated. Pretty weird that I got a fine related to my drivers licence when I hadn’t even *driven* a car in Australia for the ENTIRE year. And it turns out, it all happened because I didn’t vote. Yep, that’s right. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to drive either. Because the Government agency that handles traffic offences also handles fines for those who don’t vote. Incredibly, they match up the voters with their drivers’ licenses – and shaft them.
I'll be honest -- I suspect that the efficiency of local councils is lower and you're less likely to receive a fine in the first place. However, it's a reminder that voting isn't just your duty in a democracy: it's also wise if you don't want to cause yourself other hassles.