JUST because Canberrans are often involved in federal politics daily does not mean they should neglect their democratic responsibility to cast a valid vote, according to one local politician.
Labor MP Andrew Leigh wants to see the capital set an example for the nation on Saturday "almost regardless" of who they vote for, after the two lower house seats were ranked outside the top 10 electorates for voter turnout in the 2010 election.
In Mr Leigh's own electorate, Fraser, 94.39 per cent of enrolled citizens voted in 2010, which saw the seat placed 43rd for voter turnout out of the 150 Australian electorates. On the south side, the seat of Canberra came in 17th, with 94.86 per cent voter turnout.
Mr Leigh said the rate of informal votes was also concerning. "Canberrans are more politically engaged than people in most parts of Australia, but I'm still worried by the fact that, at the last election, 5171 Fraser voters voted informal,'' he said.
''I think, frankly, that's 5171 more people than I want to be spoiling the ballot.
"I think it's vital that we get informal voting down, and get up to that 100 per cent turnout. Democracy isn't just something for other people, it ought to involve all of us."
In the 2010 election, informal votes accounted for 4.66 per cent of the ballot for the House of Representatives in the ACT. Most of those were either blank or had incomplete numbers.
But close to 23 per cent of those informal votes were deemed so because of scribbles, slogans or other remarks written on the ballot paper, including more than 1300 with protests written on the sheet.
Mr Leigh said as much as each individual citizen had a responsibility to vote and vote correctly, it was also up to parliamentarians to ensure the public was engaged.
"I think it's incumbent on politicians to make sure we're talking optimistically about the future, and I worry sometimes when I see politics get too nasty and too negative," he said.
Citizens can be fined $20 for failing to vote in the federal election, which can increase to $170 plus court costs should the fine not be paid.
Last Monday 400 Canberrans were ordered to front court for failure to vote in the ACT election in October last year. According to the ACT Electoral Commission, there was a 90 per cent turnout for the poll.
Of the 27,500 who failed to cast a ballot, 27,100 either provided a valid excuse or paid the $20 fine on time.