In some countries the convention of a secret ballot is called an Australian ballot. I only just discovered this fact which led me to do a little research as, you know, we’re coming up to a federal election (and I need to post every day for a month for NaBloPoMo)
This is because Australia was the first to introduce the secret ballot in 1856 .
And given we were one of the first countries in the world to give women the vote (New Zealand was the first ) I reckon we can be pretty proud of our contribution to world democracy.
Of course our record for the Indigenous vote isn’t so hot.
We started off okay giving all men over the age of 21 (including Aboriginal Australians) the right to vote in 1850, although it wasn’t compulsory and in fact Indigenous voters weren’t encouraged to vote. When Queensland gained self -government in 1859 and Western Australia in 1890, they denied Indigenous people the vote. 
Then in 1901 when we became a federation, only Indigenous people on the state rolls were allowed to vote and of course this was a way to phase it out because no new people were ever added to the roll.
They finally got the vote in 1962 (although Indigenous people who had served in the armed forces got the vote in 1949) but it wasn’t a compulsory vote until 1984.
Speaking of compulsory voting – we are unique in Australia in being the only English-speaking country in the world who has it! Compulsory voting was first introduced in Queensland in 1915 and the other states followed and in 1924 was introduced for all Federal and State elections .
Personally I think compulsory voting is a good thing. The amount of money spent on getting people just to the polling booths in countries like the US is ridiculous. Only one in five people bothered to vote in the recent local government elections here. That is pathetic. Now perhaps it was because it wasn’t well advertised. Certainly I didn’t see a lot of “vote here” signs to remind people, or perhaps people think local government is irrelevant or simply corrupt. Whatever the reason I think it points to a level of apathy in this country and compulsory voting goes some way to forcing people to engage in democracy.
So there you go. I find myself surprised at how interesting I found those facts… and how strongly I feel about compulsory voting.