The Problem of Political Participation

Electoral Regulation Research Network (Vic) Seminar

Thursday 6 June


  • Dr Paul Thornton-Smith
  • Associate Professor Andrea Carson

About the Seminar:

Australia is not immune from the worldwide trend to reduced participation in the democratic process. Despite compulsory voting, voter turnout rates in Federal and State elections have been declining. In the recent Victorian State election, the voter turnout rate fell from 93% of enrolled electors to just over 90% - the lowest percentage for 73 years. Polls and election results reveal growing voter alienation from established parties and processes.

In this seminar, Paul Thornton-Smith of the Victorian Electoral Commission explained what’s been happening in Victoria, outlining the behaviour of particular groups of voters. And Andrea Carson, Associate Professor, Politics, Media and Philosophy at La Trobe University’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, looked at the broader picture, with particular reference to the role of the media.

About the Speakers:

Paul Thornton-Smith is a Senior Information and Research Officer at the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). He has worked at the VEC since 1988, mainly in the areas of voter information, media relations, legislation, political parties and representation. Paul is also the secretary of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, and worked on the 2013 redivision of Victorian electoral boundaries.

Andrea Carson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Media at La Trobe University. She was previously a lecturer in political science at the University of Melbourne and served as an Honorary Fellow with the University's Centre for Advancing Journalism. Her research examines politics and the media - with special interests in investigative journalism, the media's role in a democracy and political communication. She has done extensive research on journalism, Australian politics, party representation and voter behaviour, election campaigns and digital media. Andrea holds a PhD in Political Science and an MA in International Politics from The University of Melbourne. She has taught courses on political communication, news media and politics and campaigns and elections at The University of Melbourne. She has worked previously as a print journalist (The Age), online, radio (ABC, RRR) and TV (producer 7.30). Read more here: