Melbourne Odds and Ends

Democracy + sausage

It’s election day in Victoria. We are voting to elect representatives for our Legislative Council (Upper House) and Legislative Assembly (Lower House) of Parliament.

We have compulsory voting in Australia and I think that’s a good thing. Voting is an important democratic activity. Compulsory voting means that everyone has to take some notice of what is going on, politically, around them, even if it’s only for the three minutes that they are in the booth filling in the numbers. Everyone has to think about it, even if it is only to vote informally or do a donkey vote (straight down the ballot paper).


Many people have fought hard over centuries to get us ‘one vote, one value’. We know about the fight for the vote for women and for indigenous people to be able to vote. But struggles go back further. The Chartist Movement in Britain in the mid 1800s was a large working class movement that demanded many things we now take for granted.

The People’s Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic:

  1. A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for a crime.

  2. The secret ballot to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.

  3. No property qualification for Members of Parliament in order to allow the constituencies to return the man of their choice.

  4. Payment of Members, enabling tradesmen, working men, or other persons of modest means to leave or interrupt their livelihood to attend to the interests of the nation.

  5. Equal constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing less populous constituencies to have as much or more weight than larger ones.

  6. Annual Parliamentary elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since no purse could buy a constituency under a system of universal manhood suffrage in each twelve-month period.(From Wikipedia)

Okay, so the fight for votes for women was still a way off, but secret ballots, no property qualifications, payment fo Members of Parliament and equal electorates were major steps forward for democracy.

The right to vote has been a hard won right, and a right that not everyone around the world has. So I cherish my chance to have my vote.

The other aspect I am grateful for is that we have a nation wide Electoral Commission, which oversees all our elections. It was something I took for granted until I read things about the mid-term elections in the USA. Correct me if I am wrong about this, but it seems that in the Sates there is no national body covering all states, instead leaving it up to individual jurisdictions to determine electoral rolls, polling booths etc. To have our overarching Commission means consistency across the nation as well as removing the possibility of it becoming politicised.


And I enjoy the Democracy Sausage after!

I am not sure if Democracy Sausages, as they have become known, are a feature in in elections in other countries, so let me explain……Many polling booths are in local community centres, schools etc. So they take the opportunity to have a sausage sizzle fund raiser. So, two civic actions at once ~ voting and supporting the local school by buying a sausage!


So civic duty done….until the Federal elections sometime next year.


Do you have compulsory voting? Electoral commissions or the like?……Democracy sausages? Love to know what you think about your voting systems.

30 replies on “Democracy + sausage”

(New Zealand) compulsory to be on the “roll” but not compulsory to vote…if you do vote, only one vote is allowed. Read of a man who went to 9 different polling stations and voted, because he wanted to make his “man” got in…of course, now I think he is to fined….

hope your “sausage sizzle” doesn’t get into trouble as they have to done with a big name hardware chain, who allow fundraising on the w/end…something about greasy fried onions that could cause someone to slide on dropped off bits and break a bone!


We don’t need to produce ID when we are given our ballot paper, so I think it would be quite possible to someone to do what your chap did. I think asking for ID would be good.

As for the sausage sizzle….that incident has caused a ruckus, with the big question being ‘onion on top or underneath the sausage?’ Apparently having it underneath stops it from falling on the ground and creating a safety issue!!


Love the idea of a sausage sizzler! I think compulsory voting is a good idea. It really annoys me when people don’t vote, people fought hard to get the vote and we also see the issues people have in other countries trying to exersize their right to vote.


Is the Democracy Sausage one particular standardized type? In other words is it the same type of sausage offered at all polling places? Or is it named ‘Democracy Sausage’ due to when it is prepared (ie-during elections at the polls)?
Just curious…looks good!


Great question Laura! It has recently earned the nick-name ‘Democracy Sausage’, but it has long been a feature of polling places, where schools and local communities use the election to raise money. But given that they want to raise money, I am sure the sausages are bought as cheaply as possible, from a standard supermarket, making them a standard size too!
Are fund raisers of some sort a feature at your polling booths?
Peace to you too.

Liked by 1 person

None that I’ve ever voted at had fund raisers, even at the elementary schools locations, where a bake sale would probably pop up if allowed. I’m thinking it’s in keeping with polling restrictions surrounding the area – ie no campaign signage, booklets, etc along with anything remotely perceived as being ‘commercial’ as in a ‘sausage sizzle’!!!
I wonder who decides which ’cause’ gets chosen for the proceeds…or is it specific to where the poll is – ie-the specific school, a generic fund for the city?
FYI: we do have the equivalent of your ‘sausage sizzle’ cart in front of most home improvement retail stores…only they’re not fundraisers.
Oh and one more thing, I love your casual phrase – ‘sausage sizzle’ in case you hadn’t noticed!


Isn’t ‘sausage sizzle’ a good phrase?! Our booths have strict restrictions too. I wonder how the fund raisers are allowed? They certainly don’t do any campaigning. The money goes to the school or kindergarten etc where the polling booth is, which is why they are not at every booth. The sausage sizzles outside the DIY stores are fundraisers too. Local sports clubs, kindergartens etc are invited to be involved, and any money collected goes to them. So the money from your sausage carts goes to the store itself?

Liked by 1 person

Sorry to say, I don’t really know! I think back in the day, like decades ago, the food carts were run by individuals, not related to the store itself. But now? Haven’t a clue…and the idea to use that as a fundraiser even outside a retail place is great!
This has been a fun exchange on details of cultural life differences within democratic/english speaking countries. Thanks.
‘Sausage sizzle’ is now forever in my everyday vocab!


Voting rights for so-called minorities were hard won, so I always appreciate the privilege and show up. Many years ago I worked voting days as an election official and have signed up to do so again in our March 2019 election. Hopefully I’ll get one of our small local polling centres, a nice community day and not so long as in the bigger centres when it comes to vote counting. I wonder if Australia is the home of the Democacy Sausage. When we were travelling in 2016 we pre-poll voted as we weren’t sure if we would be near a centre on the day. But it turned out we were in Mt Isa so we rocked up for lunch anyway, and had not only a DS but the best steak & salad sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Our old local polling centre in inner city Sydney also did a mini-fete type offering with yummy cakes as well. I like this Aussie spirit, making the best of an event that can feel tedious but is necessary ☺

Liked by 1 person

It’s a great tradition. My niece’s polling booth sold plants, which she really appreciated as she is vegetarian! I live just over the road from our polling booth. Last time I was going to have a garage sale, but didn’t get my act together. It turned out to be a good thing, because for some reason the school wasn’t a polling booth that year. My stall would have looked very lonely.


And most awesome thing was the result. The Australian Labor Party (centre left), which had been in government for the last four years, had a resounding victory over the Liberal Party (centre-and-further right).
I gather sausage sizzles are not part of the American voting system.

Liked by 1 person

I enjoyed hearing about your election process, Anne. I think everyone should vote. If that means making it compulsory, I’m all for it. Voting is not required here and our turnout is often in the 30 to 40% range. Isn’t that awful? It was heartening to see a record number of young people turn out to vote in our “mid-terms”. That’s progress. People are finally waking up and realizing that their vote does count. Many thinks need to be fixed with our system, starting with the electoral college, but that’s a long conversation for another day. I love the fundraising sausage tradition. That’s smart!


It is encouraging to see young people voting. I wonder if it is because they see their future becoming more dire, with climate change, house prices and the like. I don’t think compulsory voting creates an aware public, but at least it forces people to think about what mark they will make on the ballot. It may be an informal vote, but at least they have had to think about it to some small level. As for the fundraising sausage sizzle….as I said to Tierney, what ever gets people to the polling booth!
By the way, did you have your polling booth in the mid-terms?


Hi Anne, This is an old one, but yes, we were a polling place again and with much more positive results this go around. A record number of women ran and won. Minorities and the disfranchised ran and won too. It’s encouraging. I think people finally woke up to the idea that votes do matter, and if we don’t want a repeat of our dreadful administration, everyone has to vote.


A reward for doing civic duty! Because we live directly opposite the polling booth, the Fella and I went over and got a sausage for lunch. There was a move to collect for the homeless, but I am not sure how that went.


I too think it’s very important to vote but I can’t help thinking that making it compulsory goes against the principles of democracy. Still, a sizzling sausage is always welcome.


What an interesting take on it! I have never thought about it in that way. I guess what we would like to see is a population so engaged with issues that they would be eager to have their say in the way they are governed and issues are resolved. Then compulsory/non-compulsory would not be an issue.

Liked by 1 person

Nothing like a good natter, so let's have a chat!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.