In Australia, crisp-skinned sausages help grease the wheels of democracy. On many an election day, humble sausages, also called snags, are barbecued outside polling areas either for free or to raise money for local causes. Slingers of “democracy sausages” can be sure to get lots of customers, since not voting in Australia gets you fined.
“Sausage sizzles” were already an Australian tradition, even before they achieved civic importance. At these fundraising events, school and community groups sell sausages doused in tomato or BBQ sauce and housed inside sliced white bread. Onions are common but usually cost extra. Many sausage sizzles outside of the election season happen at Bunnings hardware stores, which rent grilling space to fundraisers.
In 2016, sausage sizzling at the polls reached its highest profile yet. During the year’s federal election, Twitter released a snag-on-bread emoji to accompany its #ausvotes hashtag, while #democracysausage experienced a major uptick. Election Sausage Sizzles, a site that maps where voters can track down tasty sausages to accompany their ballot, recorded 1,992 sizzles and bake sales at the polls. And social media seized on Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s gaffe of eating a democracy sausage from the middle instead of the end.
All the hype resulted in democracy sausage beating out “deplorables” and “smashed avo” (avocado toast) to become Australia’s 2016 word of the year, as decreed by the Australian National Dictionary Centre. Due to mandatory voting, Australia has one of the highest voter turnouts in the world. And really, a sausage is cheaper than the $20 fine for not voting.
Need to Know
For a genuine democracy sausage, find a polling place during a state or federal election. Or for an apolitical sausage, head to Bunnings on a weekend.