Australia takes its democracy with a side of sausage

Bill Shorten takes a bite from a bun containing a sausage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's attempt to eat his "sausage sanga" from the side resulted in a barrage of tongue-in-cheek outrage

Barbecues have been fired up at polling booths across Australia for traditional election-day "sausage sizzles".

Australians vote on Saturdays and many booths are located at schools, churches and community halls.

These institutions take advantage of the country's high voter turnout by selling sausages, cakes and coffees to waiting voters.

Both the prime minister and opposition leader have been snagged in sausage-related controversies.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten committed a faux pas when he tried to eat his sausage-and-bun combination from the side, rather than from the end.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull left a polling booth in his Sydney electorate without consuming the traditional "democracy sausage"

His unusual technique led to a round of condemnation on social media, with one wag calling it "the lowest moment we have ever seen in politics".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, meanwhile, skipped the sausage altogether as he voted in Sydney, possibly wanting to avoid a potentially awkward photo opportunity.

The tradition is so popular that two websites have been created to tell voters where to find polling booths with sausage sizzles and cake stalls. The hashtag #democracysausage has been trending on Twitter.

Brisbane man Grant Castner, who runs the Election Sausage Sizzles website, said Google and Twitter were using his data to inform hungry voters of their nearest cookout.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Democracy in action - a volunteer cooks an election-day "sausage sizzle" in western Sydney

"The Australian Electoral Commission has a download of all the polling booth data … and then I just get schools and anyone holding a polling booth to register on the site, put a description in," he says.

"Since the last election in 2013 we have had a lot of media attention, so I didn't do too much finding on my own this time."

According to the Election Sausage Sizzles site, sausage sizzles and cake stalls are being held at 1,992 polling booths across Australia - just under one-third of the total number.

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