THERE were three main complaints from voters after the first election for an Australian Government in March, 1901.
And before we list them, isn't there something very Orstrayen about a grateful electorate responding to the gift of democracy by bitching about the details?
"If you're going to run an election couldn't you at least book a hall with better lighting, the fellow who marked my name off wasn't at all friendly and there was nowhere outside to leave my horse ..."
Stuff like that.
After the first official Australian election, held nearly three months after Australia's states got their act together to become an Australian nation, the complaints were quite specific.
Polling places didn't necessarily open and close at advertised times. In NSW voters got a shock to be handed a Senate ballot paper with 50 names. And there were problems with the pencils.
I'm sure somewhere in a dusty ledger buried in the bowels of a government building in Canberra is a record of the brand and type of graphite pencil used at that first demonstration of Australian democracy. I wish I knew because I love that kind of detail. But what is clear from the 1901 election is that the pencils weren't up to scratch, blunted easily, and a reasonable percentage of votes cast were later ruled informal because they weren't legible.
Nearly 506,000 people turned out to vote at that first election, which didn't feature compulsory voting, and where a significant percentage of the population was disenfranchised. Women in South Australia and Western Australia had the vote, but women could only protest in other states until laws were finally passed in 1902 allowing women to vote in federal elections.
Indigenous men in a number of states should have been able to vote in that first election, but there were disturbing reports of Indigenous men being arrested on trumped-up "double voting" allegations.
Voting in 1901 clearly impressed some Australians more than others. In Newcastle an outstanding 97 per cent of eligible voters turned out on Friday, March 29 to cast their ballots. Unsurprisingly, for a mining-dominated area, they elected a member of the Labour Party (which later dropped the "u").
While the bulk of the rest of the 74 seats managed turnouts of roughly 50-70 per cent, only slightly more than 30 per cent of Fremantle voters did so in an election where voting was still voluntary.
I'll stand in a booth for awhile this Saturday tossing up who's going to get 64th, 65th and 66th place in my Senate top 105? The Bullet Train for Australia Party? The Pirate Party? The Australians for a Long Weekend Every Week Party?
About 16 million Australians will vote, or already have voted, in this election.
We're still complaining about the size of the Senate ballot in some states. There are 105 candidates in NSW for six Senate seats. As of only a few years ago you're not required to put a number beside each of the 105 candidates to cast a valid Senate vote if you opt for under the line - just 12 will get you there - but I think I'll take the time to do the lot.
I take a weird pleasure in ranking each Senate candidate and their parties from most to least liked. Maybe it's just weird. But in a world where so many people are denied the vote, or where elections are a rigged game, or where voters' clear choices are ignored, sometimes violently, I like to respect this orderly process we have here by ticking every box. So I'll stand in a booth for awhile tossing up who's going to get 64th, 65th and 66th place in my Senate top 105? The Bullet Train for Australia Party? The Pirate Party? The Australians for a Long Weekend Every Week Party?
India is at the end of its extraordinary election marathon. While Narendra Modi is expected to remain prime minister, but across the continent the poor, women and farmers have rattled his government during this campaign.
In Indonesia they're in the final stretch of an election where the April 17 poll showed overwhelming support for incumbent President Joko Widodo, but where challenger Prabowo Subianto is refusing to accept defeat in a repeat of what happened in the 2014 poll.
We were on a family holiday in Bali in 1998 just before Indonesians held their first democratic election after three decades of political repression under the authoritarian regime of former military leader Soeharto.
We left Australia on a Saturday, the day of the 1998 federal election, and fussed slightly because of the need to vote on the way to the airport.
The eldest of my three sons was 13 at the time.
We arrived in Bali in the week leading up to the first public rally held by Megawati Sukarnoputri after years of the Soeharto government.
It was the first time for many years that Indonesians were able to publicly and safely express their support for anyone but Soeharto.
We stayed at Sanur, just up the road from the rally site.
On the afternoon of our arrival, while Australians were still wandering to their nearest polling booths to cast their votes, or leave them blank, or write "Stuff the lot of you" across the top, my eldest son and I sat on a median strip in the middle of Sanur's main highway outside our hotel, and took photos of ecstatic Balinese piled high on bikes and trucks, waving their red Megawati party flags and posing for the camera.
My son and I talked about why people would cheer just to have the freedom to stand in an open field, in stinking heat, supporting the politician and the style of government of their choice.
Democracy isn't perfect. Sometimes it's barely defensible. But the rights we take for granted here flow from the power of the vote.
There's 120,000 pencils in booths across the country to help us do so.