Posts Tagged ‘Election’

Make your vote count.


Vote YOUR way.

You don’t have to follow party “how to vote” leaflets. 

Preferential voting! Surveys have shown that hardly anybody understands it – and it seems that the major parties want to keep it that way, as they stand to lose most if people actually use the power of the ballot box that preferential voting gives them.

So how does it work, and how can you make your vote work hardest for you?

Elections for the House of Reps and the Senate work rather differently. So, let’s look at one at a time.

 Voting for the House of Representatives.

There will be several candidates in each electorate, but only one gets elected. If we used the “first past the post” system of voting (as in the UK), every voter would have one vote. The candidate with the most votes would be elected. Simple. But there is always a risk that two candidates with similar policies could split the vote and let a third, less popular candidate through. And voters may fear that a vote for a minor candidate might be wasted.

So in the preferential voting system used in Australia, you vote for all the candidates, in your chosen order of preference. Note that you MUST vote for ALL the candidates, 1,2,3,4, etc (or all but one, which comes to the same thing) or your vote won’t be counted at all.

 Importantly, it’s your vote.

You can vote in whatever order you want. Many parties hand out “how to vote” leaflets at the gate of the polling booth, but you don’t have to follow them. They are an attempt by the parties to seize control of your vote, often for quite cynical reasons.

 So what happens with the preferences?

If no candidate gets a clear majority (50% +1 of all the votes), then the candidate with the lowest number is eliminated, and those votes are redistributed according to the second preference. Those votes are added to the first preference votes for the remaining candidates. Effectively, you are being asked “there’s no hope of your chosen candidate getting in, so who would you like instead?”

If there’s still no clear majority after that redistribution, the next lowest candidate is eliminated and redistributed. This goes on until one candidate has a clear majority and is elected.

For the records, all the votes are fully redistributed down to the last two candidates (even if a result is clear earlier on), to show the “two party preferred” result.

 What’s good about it?

You can vote for a candidate you support, even if you fear they won’t get in. Then you can give your next preference to a major party candidate (or another minor candidate first if you like). Your vote will still eventually support the major candidate you prefer – unless your first choice gets elected because a lot of their supporters actually voted the way they wanted.

It is impossible for a candidate to get elected unless at least half the voters put him or her ahead of their main opponent. So there’s no risk that your preference for a smaller party might help the candidate you least want.

Even if your candidate doesn’t make it, you’ve still sent a signal to your second preference that that’s what they are – only your second choice: so they might need to change their policies in your direction a bit.

And don’t forget that if a candidate gets 4% or more primary votes, they get some of their election expenses refunded by the government.


First count: Anna 35 votes; Basil 30 votes; Chad 20 votes; Des 15 votes. Total 100.

No-one has a majority, so Des is eliminated. His votes are redistributed and added to Anna, Basil & Chad’s scores.

Suppose the redistributed votes from Des go: Anna +7; Basil +6; Chad +2.

New totals: Anna 42; Basil 36; Chad 22. Total 100. Still no-one has a majority.

Now Chad is eliminated. We find that his 22 votes (including the two he got from Des) go to:Anna +6; Basil +16; (any preferences for Des skip onto the next surviving candidate).

New totals: Anna 48; Basil 52.  Basil is elected, because he gained more support from eliminated candidates than Anna did.


make your vote count

another explanation


You don’t have to follow party “how to vote” leaflets. Vote for the candidate YOU prefer, and then put a preference in for the major candidate you would rather settle for. Whoever you vote for, your vote won’t be wasted.

Coming soon – voting for the Senate.