Book Review: From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage

South Australian suffrage, sausage sizzles and postal surveys are among the electoral issues canvassed in this short but sharp account of Australia at the polls.

“Australia was born not on the battlefield but in the ballot box,” writes Judith Brett in the early pages of this, a history of the vote in Australia.

It’s a slim volume divided into bite-sized chapters covering the laws and social practices that govern how we vote.

Brett’s research is meticulous. In arguably the most crucial chapter – ‘Women In, Aborigines Out’ – Brett quotes at length from primary sources to illustrate the depth of the discrimination faced by disenfranchised non-white, and specifically Indigenous, Australians.

From deaths at the ballot box to sausage sizzles at primary schools, Brett follows the progression of the Australian vote in extraordinary and technical detail. Her coverage extends to include very recent events (the 2017 marriage equality plebiscite and the October 2018 Wentworth by-election) as well as those long-buried in our history.

Want to know how and why Australia is one of only 19 electoral democracies worldwide that demand compulsory voting? This is compulsory reading.

Author: Judith Brett
Publisher: Text Publishing

From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage book cover

Adelaide In-depth

Get the latest stories, insights and exclusive giveaways delivered straight to your inbox every week.