To get a good idea of what people want, you need to conduct a survey of at least 100 people chosen at random or without much bias (or of everyone in the population). You can’t just hope that a representative sample of people will come to you. You also need to collate and analyze the results with integrity and good mathematics, not with bias, ignorance and corruption.
Petitions and opt-in polls do not prove anything much. Let’s say that 1000 people come to your web site and fill in a survey, you are only sampling people who happen to visit your website, not the whole population. It might be that 500 of those 1000 people voted as part of some organized campaign. Your sample does not represent the population.
Petitions are worse, because the whole petition is an organized campaign. Petitions do not represent the population at all. They do not even measure how many people would disagree with the petition.
If 10,000 Australians sign a petition, I only know that about 1/2100 Australians signed the petition. I don’t know whether 90%, 50%, 10% or 1% of the whole population would support the petition, I only know that some people did sign it. A survey of only 100 people chosen at random is more useful.
Here in Australia we do have compulsory voting, which is good, but the voting system for the ‘house of representatives’ is totally broken.
In a country-wide federal election, most people vote for the political parties, not so much for the candidates. Imagine that there are two political parties, A and B. Party A gets 45% of the vote in each electorate, and Party B gets 55% of the vote. Party A ‘loses’ in each electorate, and exactly zero members make it to the ‘house of representatives’. The house is totally controlled by Party B. Their slight majority of 55 : 45 has become a totality of 150 : 0.
This is what happens to smaller parties like the Greens in each election. Although the Greens get more than 10% of the vote, only one member out of 150 was elected to the house of representatives. According to the Greens website, “Greens would have 17 seats if the House was elected by proportional representation”. That would be fair and representative.
If people vote for political parties, and a party gets 10% of the vote, they should get 10% of the members. The system is broken, stupid and corrupt.
There is a great deal of inertia in the national political system, but I think it’s very important to correct this so that minority peoples, parties and policies do get fair representation, and so that everyone’s vote actually does count toward electing someone rather than being discarded or reassigned.