Sydney Morning Herald

Friday, May 21, 1999 

Woman jailed for a day for refusing to vote 

A Melbourne mother of four spent the day in jail yesterday for failing
to vote at the
past two Federal elections - because she thought no candidate was worth
voting for.

Melissa Manson, 35, refused to vote in the 1993 and 1996 elections and
then refused
to pay $90 in fines imposed on April 15 in Ringwood Magistrates Court
after she was
prosecuted by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Ms Manson has said she didn't vote because none of the candidates were worth
voting for, and that jailing someone for exercising the right not to
vote was a national

Australia is one of the few countries where voting is compulsory.

A spokesman for the Victorian Police Minister, Mr Bill McGrath, said
Manson was
taken into custody by sheriff's officers at Ballarat in central Victoria
and transported
to Melbourne Women's Correctional Centre.

She was released late yesterday after serving her day in prison.

"The point to make is she now has a conviction against her name and a
record of
imprisonment and if she wants to pursue a political career with the
political stance she
has taken, she'll find it will be hampered," the spokesman said.

Manson believed she had a democratic right not to vote.

"I would never have paid the fines, anyway," she said yesterday morning
as she
waited for police.

"This could not have happened in any other democratic country in the world.

"This political imprisonment is a national disgrace."

She said compulsory voting was a form of corruption, imposed on
Australians "solely
to support and protect the politicians".

Manson's daughters, aged 17, 15, 14 and 8, stayed with their father yesterday.


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