Hey Lifehacker, I'm nearly 20 and I'm not on the electoral roll. I constantly forget to send the form in to join and all the current political stuff got me thinking: what's the downside of not being on the electoral roll? I get a fine, right? Is it a small enough fine that it's worth it to just pay it instead of standing in line for hours on election days? Thanks, Vote#1Apathy
Voting picture from Shutterstock
The actual penalty for not voting is surprisingly small: if you choose to just pay the fine and don’t contest it in court, you’re looking at around $20. Some would argue that an occasional $20 fine is vastly preferable to the wasted time and aggravation of voting.
On the other hand, voting in elections is one of your civic duties, just like paying taxes or jury duty. You can’t very well have an opinion on the way the country is run if you can’t even bother to vote. You should also spare a thought to the millions of people in non-democratic countries who would give almost anything to be in your position. Civilians are still giving up their lives for the freedoms we take for granted.
While it’s true lining up at the voting booth can be time-consuming, there are ways to lessen the pain. Try to avoid peak periods like opening and closing times to cut down on the wait. If you know which way you want to vote, keep your hands firmly jammed in your pockets and avoid making eye-contact with the pamphlet wavers. You can also elect to vote in advance or by post, if that’s more convenient.
Personally, I usually head down around lunch time to take advantage of the sausage sizzle. Waiting in line isn’t so bad when you’ve got a snag to munch on!
If any readers have (non-political) voting tips of their own, let VIA know in the comments section below.
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This article has been updated since its originally publication.