Now before you wonder what reactionary has taken over my blog, some background.
On Saturday I spent the morning handing out Greens How To Votes at Wilkins Public School. One of the disturbing things about watching an election is the amount of misunderstanding of the process from the general public. People really don't understand preferential voting, or how preferences flow.
I had lots of questions about whether a Greens vote will go to the Liberals -- questions I answered by explaining that the How To Vote flyers are only our party's recommendation of how you vote, and you are perfectly able to allocate your preferences any way you want. Of course in the Senate ticket this is somewhat onerous, with 84 boxes needing to be filled in NSW, so above-the-line is more likely and people really need to know how their chosen party will allocate preferences.
So my suggestion is this: 18-25 year olds should be required (or perhaps just strongly encouraged) to work as scrutineers or counters in one election while they are in this age range. Working as a scrutineer means you get to watch the entire process of ballot counting, including the distribution of preferences. It's actually a reasonably difficult thing to explain in words, but very simple to explain in practice.
I suppose an alternative would be to ensure school civics classes teach this, and teach it through a little election in the classroom complete with preferences.
The photo shows the queue at our polling place. It didn't get below about 30 minutes wait the whole morning, mainly because two of the three people handing out ballot papers were totally useless. The video is some random kids who picked up some of our corflutes and were going around spruiking for votes while they waited for their parents. The kids are alright!