WINDHAM — It’s 3:46 a.m. on Monday. I just got up and picked up the laptop because I couldn’t get back to sleep. Tonight at midnight I join the ranks of the Medicare-covered “elite.” I can’t stop singing the Beatles’ “When I’m 64” until March 28.

I’m convinced my early waking is meant to teach me more compassion and understanding for my wife and women in general in our age group, who suffer nightly the inability to get good sleep (and to regulate body temperature).

This morning, after celebrating 53 years of political action with my morning coffee, I’m thinking about Australia, my favorite island continent. I can’t wait for our trip (someday) to see the kangaroos and meet the Aboriginal people and other human inhabitants.

In fact, I have a wish that when I die, my body be refrigerated and flown there to be shark food on the Great Barrier Reef – either there or off the Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey. Does that make me sound a little nuts? For a guy who has been fishing, eating fish and scuba diving for most of my life, I say, “Maybe a little!”

But on the day before “Super Tuesday” – when 12 states are scheduled to hold either primaries or caucuses – I find myself most intrigued by Australia’s little-known-to-Americans voting regulations. I just love them.

Under Australian federal electoral law, enacted in 1918 at the end of World War I, it is compulsory for all eligible Australian citizens to enroll and vote in federal elections, by-elections and referendums. In fact, after each election the Australian Electoral Commission will send a letter to all apparent non-voters requesting that they either provide a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote or pay a $20 penalty.

If, within the time period specified on the notice, you fail to reply or cannot provide a valid and sufficient reason to decline to pay the $20 penalty, then the matter may be referred to a court. If the matter is dealt with in court and you are found guilty, you may be fined up to $170 plus court costs, and a criminal conviction may be recorded against you.

Failure to respond will result in the suspension of one’s driver’s license. Repeat offenders will be punished with higher fines.

As I sip my coffee, I say to myself: “Hmmmm, wouldn’t that be nice!” Then I say to myself: “Not with OUR Constitution!” Bummer! But wouldn’t it be nice?

The Christian Science Monitor has reported that on average, 62.1 percent of Mainers turn out to vote, ranking us at No. 2 in the nation, topped only by Minnesotans, at 67.6 percent. Sadly, and in my opinion irresponsibly, the national average is only 51.6 percent.

That’s a lot of numbers. But by comparison, between 1840 and 1900, Americans cast ballots at the rate of 70 percent to 80 percent. What’s up now?

The population of the United States is estimated to be 320 million. Of that population, about 245 million are 18 or older. But only around 146 million of those 245 million Americans eligible to vote by virtue of their age are actually registered to vote.

“Hmmmm, Australia … .”

In 2012, 126 million Americans voted in the presidential election. In 2015, about 115 million Americans watched the Super Bowl on TV.

Voting is only one of the tools Mainers have in their influence toolbox. Political action is another.

This weekend, Mainers who are registered in the Democratic or Republican parties will have the chance to participate in the presidential nomination process. The Republicans will caucus Saturday, and the Democrats will meet Sunday. This is when we voters can have our influence.

If you have never been to a local Maine caucus, you are missing some seriously cool stuff. And some seriously cool people. And a seriously cool chance to have more influence than simply as a voter. This is how we Mainers choose our presidential candidates, as well as our delegates to the state and national presidential conventions.

So rise, Mainers, and let your influence rise, too. Come on over to your local caucus and “raise heck …” (or raise Bernie or Hillary or Donald or Ted or Marco or …) and think: “Hmmmm, Australia!”

— Special to the Press Herald