Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


You can't "waste your vote"!
August 21, 2013 1:12 AM   Subscribe

Australian Federal Election time is heading into high gear now that the official list of candidates has been finalised—and it is a long one! With a record number of candidates in the 2013 election, it can be awfully tempting to just vote above the line for the Senate, especially as many believe that voting below the line means wasting your vote. Thankfully, Dennis the Election Koala is here to explain why you can't waste your vote. (It also makes a good intro to preferential voting for those still mystified by it.)

More ways to make sure your vote counts the way you want it to: Below The Line is a really nifty set of tools. Once you look up your address (or select your division, if you know it), you can view the way the preferences would flow and also go into a ballot editor. The ballot editor shows the candidates (with links to their websites, for the most part) and lets you drag them around to come up with an order you're happy with. Then you can print it off and take it with you to your polling place.

Antony Green's election guide is has background on the political landscape, overviews of electorates, how the preferences will be directed, candidates, the lot.

There are just a few holes in the information about some of the independent candidates, partly rectified below:

ACT
Emmanuel Ezekiel-Hart

NSW
Andrew Whalan & Peter Grant Cooper remain ciphers, though Whalan also ran in the 2010 election.
Tom Wang needs promoters, though his running-mate Daniel O'Toole has at least gotten linked in.
Ron Poulsen
David Ash
Sam Nathan is another mystery.
John La Mela was once a Liberal but is now independent.

QLD
Peter Keioskie and Roland Taylor
Greg Rudd (yes, he's Kevin's brother) and Emily Dinsey

SA
Ribnga Green and Zita Adut Ngor
Diana Mieglich and John Rohde
Christopher Mark Cochrane (SLYT)
Robert Weaver is keeping a low profile.

TAS
Andrew Roberts

VIC
Joseph Toscano group
Bob Nicholls group
Lyn Gunter
Darrell Scott Morrison

And as always, the Australian Electoral Commission has the full list, including professions and often contact information for all the candidates.
posted by Athanassiel (61 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
For those of you who think reading is too hard but still want to learn about the coolness that is the alternative voting/instant runoff voting system, CGP Grey has got you covered. (Also, an interesting proposal on how to stop gerrymandering.)

As an American who's very interested in the actual nuts and bolts of the political process separate from policy, I find the instant runoff voting scheme very appealing. It might not be 100% feasible (at least, not easily) to implement such a scheme nationwide, but it already is used to varying degrees at the city, county and even state level (go North Carolina, you electoral process rebels, you). As CGP Grey points out, it's not a cure for all that ails the democratic process, but it does eliminate the "spoiler effect" that first-past-the-post has. It certainly seems that IRV is still gaining traction, so we shall see if this really starts to take root in the US.
posted by Punkey at 1:36 AM on August 21, 2013


For those of you who think reading is too hard..

..there's always the daily show.
posted by phaedon at 2:16 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


some people Tony Abbott considers “less extreme” than the Greens.
posted by acb at 3:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm English so there is no way my brain can begin to comprehend AV. Just tell me something about the Royal baby and pat me on the head.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 3:06 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The way I think about the preferential system - if the winner is not the person most people want, then at least it'll be the person who the majority don't mind.

Also, I have been known to collect all the how to vote cards so I can vote in a way that follows none of them.
posted by pianissimo at 3:23 AM on August 21, 2013


I'm feeling very vindicated by how popular this has been in my social circle. Usually come election time I'm the single issue wonk boring my friends about the joys of voting below the line. Now they're all lecturing me about preference flows and the balance of power and election funding.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 3:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm English so there is no way my brain can begin to comprehend AV. Just tell me something about the Royal baby and pat me on the head

The Royal baby is the son of the Duke of Cambridge. The Duke of Cambridge is a hereditary peer. AV is used in hereditary peers' by-elections for the House of Lords. *pat*
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:15 AM on August 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


An alternative voting system won't happen in the US because it isn't what the sainted "Founding Fathers" stipulated a couple of centuries ago and therefore must be too cumbersome or stupid or socialist to even contemplate.
posted by pracowity at 4:18 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice to see a government encouraging people to vote instead of setting up roadblocks to discourage them.
posted by octothorpe at 4:34 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


An alternative voting system won't happen in the US because it isn't what the sainted "Founding Fathers" stipulated a couple of centuries ago and therefore must be too cumbersome or stupid or socialist to even contemplate.

Nah, it's because people hate change. It's the reason our keyboards are still based on an inefficient one set up to help keys not locking up, we in America don't have the metric system used mostly, and people complain about sites like facebook being ruined with each change. Those are all basically trivial compared to changing the political system, where people with way too much potential power to lose would even be willing to try and change.
posted by usagizero at 4:38 AM on August 21, 2013


Don't forget people, all of this voting is undertaken with a humble pencil too!
posted by wilful at 4:56 AM on August 21, 2013


I know this makes me a bad person, but Dennis the Election Koala irritates me. I like Australia's preferential voting system. It reduces the tendency to vote strategically, and provides a stronger incentive to vote for a minor party that you genuinely like. But claiming that its "impossible" to waste your vote by putting a minor party first is absurd.

It doesn't take a lot of thought to come up with a counterexample. Suppose my electorate has 15 voters and three parties: GRN on the left, ALP in the middle, LIB on the right. Let's say I prefer GRN > ALP > LIB. Among the other 14 voters, there are 6 LIB voters, all of whom prefer ALP over GRN. There are 4 GRN voters, who all prefer ALP over LIB. The remaining 4 are ALP voters, who split down the middle: 2 prefer GRN over LIB, 2 prefer LIB over GRN. If I vote my true preferences, GRN > ALP > LIB, then the ALP candidate is eliminated first. The preferences flow equally to GRN and LIB so the net result is LIB wins. Alternatively, I can grit my teeth and vote ALP > GRN > LIB. My beloved GRN candidate is eliminated first, but all the preferences flow to the ALP candidate, who then wins. I am therefore better off voting ALP > GRN > LIB, even though I personally prefer GRN over LIB.

In real life I don't know for certain how many votes different parties will get, nor can I be sure which way preferences will flow. But if I were a Greens voter in an electorate where the polls put the Liberal party at about 40%, with the ALP and the Greens split at 30% each, I'd be very strongly tempted to vote strategically by putting the ALP candidate first.
posted by mixing at 4:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, although it is in fact compulsory to vote, and fines do get issued (I believe they're $50 now), the simplest way to stay away from the law it seems is to simply not register. Which nearly one in five 18 - 24 year olds have bothered to not do. Democracy - wasted on the youth.
posted by wilful at 5:00 AM on August 21, 2013


(Well, that's assuming a voter whose preference for the Greens over the ALP is pretty mild, but whose loathing for the Liberals is extreme. If you love the Greens and loathe both major parties, I guess the incentive to vote strategically in the 30-30-40 scenario disappears)
posted by mixing at 5:00 AM on August 21, 2013


Damn you edit window! "Even though I personally prefer GRN over LIB." should be "even though I personally prefer GRN over ALP". It's mistakes like this that make me fear the Senate ballot paper. I know I'm going to end up voting for Coke in the Bubblers somehow. I just know it.
posted by mixing at 5:09 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have more questions for the koala:

Is the "above the line" referred to in this post reflecting the way that the ballot is drawn in the cartoon, where "major parties" are listed on top and "minor parties" below? Or something else?

I note that there is no "line" separating the two. Is there an actual line on the actual ballot?

Do the actual ballots actually say "Major Parties" and "Minor Parties"?

Why is there an "above the line" in the first place? Why give preferential treatment to any particular party?

Regarding the dingo's question of whether one has to rank all the candidates: What happens if you don't? Or if you do some other invalid thing, like rank two separate candidates as equal? I assume your vote is discarded, either before or after reaching the problematic candidate(s) on your ballot? If "after", then that seems like you don't have to rank them all, so in what sense do you "have to"? And if "before"... that seems weird.
posted by Flunkie at 5:32 AM on August 21, 2013


Oh, also: Gruntward makes some interesting points. Where can I learn more about his campaign?
posted by Flunkie at 5:33 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Minneapolis and St. Paul use IRV! It is contributing to a very complicated many-candidate Minneapolis mayoral election this year.
posted by miyabo at 5:39 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Above the line" and "below the line" are literal and refer to the ballot paper. The parties are listed at the top of the paper, above a horizontal line. If you want to save time you can just tick the box of the party you prefer and the electoral commission will allocate your vote according to that party's wishes. If you are a smartarse who wants to waste people's time you can vote "below the line" where all the candidates are listed individually, and number each candidate's box in the order of your preference. This is your democratic right, you wanker for even considering this pointless exercise in frustration: the workers at the electoral commission are there to chivy your miserable scrap of individualist bogpaper around the tally room as the count progresses.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:50 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, I'll play the role of koala. It's too late to be working anyway...

"Is the "above the line" referred to in this post reflecting the way that the ballot is drawn in the cartoon, where "major parties" are listed on top and "minor parties" below? Or something else?

The cartoon shows a ballot for the House of Representatives. "Above the line" voting relates to the Senate, and it's a concession to the fact that most people don't want to specify a complete rank ordering over dozens of candidates. You can do that if you want by voting "below the line" and numbering every single candidate. Alternatively, you can just put a 1 in a single box, "above the line". When you do that, you're essentially selecting a single party. That party now directs where your preferences go. Most people vote above the line, which means that there's a lot of horse trading among parties regarding how they will direct the preferences of their "above the line" voters. It's kind of ugly to watch.

I note that there is no "line" separating the two. Is there an actual line on the actual ballot

On the Senate ballot, yes. If it helps, this video shows an actual Senate ballot paper, though I imagine it's not accessible outside Australia. (Image here)

Do the actual ballots actually say "Major Parties" and "Minor Parties"?

No. Actual party names are printed.

Why is there an "above the line" in the first place? Why give preferential treatment to any particular party?

See above.

Regarding the dingo's question of whether one has to rank all the candidates: What happens if you don't? Or if you do some other invalid thing, like rank two separate candidates as equal? I assume your vote is discarded, either before or after reaching the problematic candidate(s) on your ballot? If "after", then that seems like you don't have to rank them all, so in what sense do you "have to"? And if "before"... that seems weird."

If you don't number all the boxes, your vote is invalid and is discarded before being counted (I believe). I don't know why we do it that way. It's kind of stupid. I think that some State elections are more relaxed about this, allowing you to number only some of the boxes.
posted by mixing at 5:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


# I have more questions for the koala

The first 'card' you see in the cartoon isn't a ballot. The part of the comic that's more like a ballot is the one with the heading "Vote", and this is more like a lower house ballot.

Voting above/below the line is only done on the senate paper where there is indeed a big fat line and instructions on how to complete it. You can see a pic and an explanation here. They don't say 'major and minor' and the order in which the parties appear is randomised (not per paper, just in general).

"Above the line" voting is there for those of you who prefer just to give your first preference to one party and let the party's group voting preferences decide how to parcel out your vote. For example, if I vote above the line for the Labor Party and they have five candidates then my vote is spent among them first, then their next preference, and so on.

Each party or grouped set of candidates (since indies can gang up!) submits one or more group tickets to the Electoral Commission before the election that explains how they want their preferences from above-the-line votes to flow. In a state like Tasmania where you might have, say, 20 candidates this is pretty easy. In Victoria where I live we have something like 70-odd candidates so you're going to be there for a while. It is much easier, obviously, and was introduced relatively recently to help eliminate the chance of you informalising your Senate vote.

Antony Green has, as always, a great bunch of answers to other questions you might think of. In it, he says that you can fill in 90% of the squares and/or three bugger-ups. However the AEC says you have to number everything.
posted by raena at 5:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the "above the line" referred to in this post reflecting the way that the ballot is drawn in the cartoon, where "major parties" are listed on top and "minor parties" below? Or something else?

Ok, the koala only explained preferential voting in the House of Representatives (lower house, majority party here forms the government, generally).

The "line" refers to voting for the Senate (upper house, or "unrepresentative swill" according to a former prime minster). Here you can either put a "1" in a box above the line, or number every single box below the line - 62 boxes in the case of the WA ballot paper. There is a line. Here's a sample.

The voting for the Senate is also preferential but counted in a different way - proportional representation. It vaguely means that a party with x% of the vote will win x% of the seats.

Do the actual ballots actually say "Major Parties" and "Minor Parties"?
No. But the major parties will have fairly ordinary names, plus you'll have heard of them, whereas the minor parties will often be named after their founder (Palmer United Party), or their sole policy (Help End Marijuana Prohibition or HEMP, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party).

On preview, what the people above me said but stuff it, I've already typed this so you're getting it anyway.
posted by pianissimo at 5:55 AM on August 21, 2013


Flunkie:

It's all described in detail here but here's a summary:

Background: each political party registers preferences in advance of the election, which determine how votes would be distributed in the case that the party doesn't win.

"Above the line" does indeed refer to a line printed on the ballot paper. If you vote 'above', you simply place a single number in a single square above the line. In essence, you're voting for a single particular party and allowing the party to determine how preferences are distributed.

The ballots do not say "Major Parties" and "Minor Parties", they use the names of the party in question -- but not every party is represented above the line, as many candidates are "ungrouped" or individual -- you find this with many of the single-issue parties, like Bullet Train For Australia.

If you vote "below the line" you could simply repeat all the preferences in the same order as if you had voted above the line, but it gives you power to shake up the order and send a message to the eventual winner about what's important (of the choices available)

If you choose to vote below the line and you don't number every box, the ballot is invalid. If you somehow muck up the ordering and double up numbers, skip one, etc, your ballot is invalid.

(on post, three excellent answers above but I've included some links they didn't so ner ;) )
posted by nonspecialist at 5:58 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is the order in which a party will allocate its above the line voters legally set in stone before the election, or does the party only need to decide after the election, or even after their votes need to be reallocated?
posted by Flunkie at 5:58 AM on August 21, 2013


Is the order in which a party will allocate its above the line voters legally set in stone before the election, or does the party only need to decide after the election, or even after their votes need to be reallocated?

Set in stone.

I included a link to the part of Antony Green's site which lists them in my post above.
posted by nonspecialist at 6:01 AM on August 21, 2013


Is the order in which a party will allocate its above the line voters legally set in stone before the election, or does the party only need to decide after the election, or even after their votes need to be reallocated?

Set in stone.


Yep, and it's sorted already, as early voting started yesterday.
posted by pianissimo at 6:04 AM on August 21, 2013


Flunkie: "Is the order in which a party will allocate its above the line voters legally set in stone before the election, or does the party only need to decide after the election, or even after their votes need to be reallocated?"

Before the election.

Slightly confusingly, parties are allowed to register up to three different sets of preference orders, and their voters will be split among those orders. I guess the idea is that if Party A really likes Party B, but is indifferent to Parties C and D, they can submit A > B > C > D and A > B > D > C. That way, Party A does preference Party B first, but then they play no role in differentiating between C and D.
posted by mixing at 6:05 AM on August 21, 2013


It doesn't take a lot of thought to come up with a counterexample.

NO voting system is free of this, period. It's called Arrow's paradox. There will always be edge cases where to vote for the person you truly support will elect someone worse. The only way to make a voting system truly free from tactical voting is to add an element of chance, or have a dictator vote.

However, once you take the number of voters from 10 to 1,000,000, the edge cases become vastly rarer, and in the case of public support for elections, you should always vote for the candidate you truly support in order to help them secure funding, even if they do lose. Another way to limit tactical voting is to take away the information needed -- get rid of pre-vote polling.

The real question is how many counterfactual cases are there in a given voting system over another voting system in the same election. And there are vastly less in IRV than there are in first past the post, where voting for a third party is an implicit half vote for the party you hate the most.

Better is true runoff voting, where the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and the rest run another election, repeating until one reaches a majority, but that takes a great deal of time and effort.

Finally, I think any IRV, or indeed, any voting system, is flawed unless it has None Of The Above that, if it wins, results in the rejection of all the candidates and a new election.
posted by eriko at 6:05 AM on August 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


The election was called three weeks ago, to be held in three weeks, and the parties preference deals were only announced (and set in stone) a few days ago. Of greatest note, the Wikileaks Party tried to game the system somewhat, and is now falling apart in recriminations.
posted by wilful at 6:09 AM on August 21, 2013


Yes, I do know Arrow's theorem. It is rather famous, after all. My point is not that tactical voting should be made impossible somehow, but that there's far too much triumphalism in Australia about how great the single transferrable vote is. STV is good. It's not perfect.
posted by mixing at 6:13 AM on August 21, 2013


Your Important And Comprehensive Guide To The Major Candidates In The Upcoming Federal Election, for a bit of puerile humour.
posted by Quilford at 6:15 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Regarding the dingo's question of whether one has to rank all the candidates: What happens if you don't? Or if you do some other invalid thing, like rank two separate candidates as equal?

Ooh, I know this one because I had to memorise the following mantra: "Fill in every square, numbering the candidates in the order of your preference."

This is because somebody realised that the law didn't say anything about duplicated numbers, and he encouraged voters to number the candidates 1, 2, 2, 2, 2 .... so that their vote would be valid (every square was numbered) but no preferences could flow to other candidates - i.e., you could vote for Shave The Sheepdogs and know that no actual politicians would be elected on the strength of your vote. They actually sent people with video cameras around to a booth I was working in, and they were very disappointed when I didn't say something incorrect like "number the boxes from 1 to 10 (or whatever) in the order of your preference". That suggestion would be sensible, but it was not technically correct: the numbers did not have to be sequential. I think they later changed the rules, but I'm not sure.

In any event, volunteers from the political parties attend the counting ("scrutineers") and if a vote is arguably unclear they'll question it and get it removed - as long as it would go to their opponents, of course. So two equally-ranked candidates mean that nobody gets the benefit of that vote, assuming that higher-ranked candidates were already eliminated.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:51 AM on August 21, 2013


NO voting system is free of this, period. It's called Arrow's paradox.

Two things:

(1) Some voting systems are immune to strategic voting, but they meet various technical definitions of "terrible." IIRC randomly selecting one voter and doing whatever they say is immune to it. So is dictatorship.

(2) The proof about strategic voting is properly the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem, not Arrow, but there are ways to prove them both at the same time.

The weirdest (potential, theoretical) problem with IRV is that it's nonmonotonic -- if people switch their preferences to Candidate A shortly before the election, it's possible for that *increased* support to cause them to *lose* when they would have won.

For the most part, the most you can say about voting systems is, (1), that every voting system unavoidably sucks, but (2), almost anything is better than single-member FPTP.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:53 AM on August 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like IRV. Full proportional ballot-list systems sever the link between the individual representative and your vote, only party matters. I would love to see it applied in the US widely so I don't have to constantly explain the damage of voting for a third party even though it's technically nonmonotonic in rare cases.

There does need to be some organizational bar to clear for candidates and parties, though. The usefulness of being able to rank-order candidates is sharply diminished when a voter has to rank-order 15 or 20 choices. Hell, I'm a huge political junkie, and faced with that monumental task I'd toy with a donkey vote too.

I'm not exactly sure what the ideal number of choices is...perhaps 5 to 7. More than 2. Less than 30. 40 is right out.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 7:02 AM on August 21, 2013


gosh, he asked innocently, I wonder why Australia only has two parties/coalitions that have a shot of winning. I guess those two embody the full range of beliefs of Australians.

Either that or IRV optimizes for two parties nearly as thoroughly as FPTP does...

(Partisan for approval voting here. The ballot looks like FPTP, but instead of voting for one candidate, you fill in the bubbles for ALL of the candidates you consider acceptable.)
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Either that or IRV optimizes for two parties nearly as thoroughly as FPTP does...

In the lower house, tends to (although we had quite a few "independents" and minor party candidates last time.

You might like the Senate more. The minor parties do better there.
Unfortunately, sometimes it's someone you really, really dislike.
posted by Mezentian at 8:08 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The usefulness of being able to rank-order candidates is sharply diminished when a voter has to rank-order 15 or 20 choices. Hell, I'm a huge political junkie, and faced with that monumental task I'd toy with a donkey vote too

I put to you that the major advantage of IRV over First Past the Post (FPtP) voting is seen when there IS a long list of candidates - and the longer the better.

FPtP voting basically says to you: "Hey Voter. Hey. I want you to tell me which one of these people is your BFF. Which person here do you love - who do you wanna elect so hard right now that no-one else will do."

Yet that very concept - loving a politician - goes against every single moral, ethical and psychological norm that an honest person has. Yuk.

IRV - especially with a large number of candidates - asks you something more joyful, more profound and infinitely more "human". It says to you: "Hey Voter. Hey. You see this list of 129 fuckwits? This array of scum-eating, shit-headed crooks? Just tell me which of these people you hate the most - which of them is your least favourite person out of 129 assholes".

Then when you've done that, it says: "Hey. That was fun. But let's not let these other jackasses just walk away from this. Tell me who you hate just a little less than that other turdhumper".

And you keep going like that - voting backwards, as it were, from #129 to #1 - until you have told every candidate exactly where they rank in the piece-of-shit parade that is Australian politics.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:57 AM on August 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


gosh, he asked innocently, I wonder why Australia only has two parties/coalitions that have a shot of winning. I guess those two embody the full range of beliefs of Australians.

Meh. Proportional Representation systems encourage the proliferation of parties, but the final outcome isn't all that different and in some ways it has the potential to be worse. You still need a government that has the confidence of the house; that means that the various little parties have to come together to form a majority coalition (Israel's Knesset would be the example most familiar to Americans). In a two-party system you get a similar thing going on, with a broad label actually covering a multitude of factions (the "liberal wing" of the Democratic Party vs. the "conservative wing" etc.). The disadvantages of Proportional Representation systems come in the outside power often wielded by very small groups whose vote has to be bought in order for the government to function at all; whereas in Britain a party like the National Front fails to get parliamentary representation at all or, if it does, manages to get just a few "Independent" members into the House, in a Proportional Representation system they can easily become the tail wagging the dog of a larger more conventional conservative party.
posted by yoink at 10:07 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


True, PR makes democracy a less safe placebo button.
posted by acb at 10:33 AM on August 21, 2013


Hollywood Upstairs Medical College and raena, in Victoria we actually have 97 boxes to number below the line in the Senate. 97. That's what makes the belowtheline tool so useful. I am stubbornly committed to making sure the parties I detest the most come last in the boxes (admittedly, it is sometimes hard to choose which one I hate the most) so I've ranked everyone, printed out my ballot so when I go to vote I just copy what I've previously decided.

I thought I had a handle on this preferential thing, especially for a transplanted American, but y'all are making me realise that there is way more complexity than I realised. Thankfully there is still Antony Green.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:36 PM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Athanassiel, the likelihood that you make an error or two in undertaking the numbering is quite high. I have always stubbornly voted below the line. But this time, having closely checked the Greens preference flows in Victoria, I’m happy to put a 1 next to them and let it be.
posted by wilful at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2013


Yeah, I wish I could do that, but the Greens put Family First way too high. I am still scarred by Steve Fielding. Also I don't think I am as keen on Wikileaks as they are, especially not with how Wikileaks have directed their preferences. I'm not worried, if I mess up one ballot paper I will ask for another one - which is definitely ok to do.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:46 PM on August 21, 2013


This is an excellent account of the nuts and bolts of what actually happens in tallying up Senate votes and quotas. As someone who had a good basic grasp of the process, it has cleared up a number of things.
posted by wilful at 6:36 PM on August 22, 2013


That's some algorithm.

It was news to me that all ballot sheets become data for computer entry. Mammoth task. Why on earth are the majority not offered i-Vote (from home or in-booth)? It'd cut out the middle man and associated error, streamline things, and probably inspire at least some of the unregistered 400K to register and vote.

This year the National Tally Room finally succumb to the Virtual Tally Room.

AEC: Virtual Tally Room, http://vtr.aec.gov.au (not live until the day).
posted by de at 5:51 AM on August 23, 2013


For what it's worth, I took the parties' senate preference sheets and fed them through a Python script which calculates the average preference given by each party to each other, and groups the parties by which order they put five reference parties (the ALP, the Liberals/Nationals, the Greens and One Nation, chosen because people have strong views about them), to get a picture of the Australian political spectrum according to preference flows. My initial results are here.
posted by acb at 2:50 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took the parties' senate preference sheets and fed them through a Python script

Don't tell me, they all came out in favor of the Silly Party, right?
posted by yoink at 4:16 PM on August 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I had to memorise the following mantra: "Fill in every square, numbering the candidates in the order of your preference."

Stumbled across AEC's Informal Vote [pdf], and we can leave a blank square and still be voting formally. News to me. On the HoR ballot paper:
■ Where a voter has indicated a first preference for one candidate and an order of preference for all the remaining candidates except for one. If the square opposite that candidate has been left blank, the Act deems that the voter’s preference for that candidate is the voter’s last preference. The voter has accordingly indicated an order of preference for all candidates. This ballot paper will thus be counted as formal.

■ In a case where there are two candidates only and the voter has indicated the voter’s first preference by placing a 1 beside one candidate, and either leaving the other square blank or placing any other figure (apart from ‘1’) in the other square, the voter will be deemed to have indicated an order of preference for all candidates and the vote will be counted as formal.
Similarly, on the senate below-the-line ballot paper we can leave the last-preference square blank and be voting formally.

More extreme again: on the senate ballot paper we can leave up to 10% of the squares blank -- provided the first 90% are correctly and consecutively numbered (from '1') -- avoiding preference flow-on to the candidates left un-numbered. It's a legacy of the Langer-vote left applicable in senate voting to 'save' votes. Essentially we have a degree of optional preferential voting loitering at the tail end of the current senate full preferential voting system due to an otherwise high error rate. It's saving votes by accepting some error. I'm amazed.
■ A [senate] ballot paper will not be regarded as informal if the voter has voted ‘below the line’ and there are a minimal number of mistakes in the sequences of the numbers on the ballot paper as set out in s. 270 of the Act.
If leaving acceptable blanks makes you too nervous, a strategic numbering error will exercise your (remaining) right to an optional preferential vote on the last 10% or fewer of senate candidates.

For example: Victoria has 96 senate candidates. There may be 6 candidates I in no way want to preference. I fill out below-the-line numbers '1' to '90', I omit using the number '91', use the number '92' twice -- oops, and complete the ticket, 93, 94, 95, 96. The error is acceptable under the Act, and my preferences exhaust at candidate '90'. For what it's worth, in no way do I contribute to the election of the 6 candidates involved in my deliberate error.

So much for Dennis the Election Koala.
Given voting is a concerted effort, the electorate could do with full information. (Imagine, Senator Cash - spent in error.)
posted by de at 12:50 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And here is a web-based interactive visualisation of the senate how-to-vote cards which I put together this weekend.
posted by acb at 11:12 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to the Australian, Cabinet also recently considered implementing optional preferential voting for the Lower House.
posted by kithrater at 6:12 PM on August 27, 2013


And here is Julian Assange, rapping. Between this, Katter's dancing, Clive Palmer twerking (oh, and admitting he's paid pollsters for specific outcome), I'm not sure how much stranger this campaign can get.
posted by Mezentian at 2:44 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


For god sake, you'd think Assange could do better with miming. What's he do all day?
posted by de at 3:02 AM on August 28, 2013


Antony Green expresses his disappointment about the Federal Senate voting system, on the suggestion that Pauline Hanson could beat Arthur Sinodinos for the last quota in NSW.
posted by kithrater at 11:40 PM on August 28, 2013


So he's basically disappointed in the electorate?
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:18 AM on August 29, 2013


He's totally against the current (above-the-line) Senate electoral system which disenfranchises the electorate. He makes a good case.

Senate voting threatens more than our eyesight
By ABC's Antony Green
posted by de at 8:35 AM on August 29, 2013


The other election thread has now closed...

I just wrote this to a mate and thought it was worth sharing, my views on the imminent change of government.

I tell myself, and I think it's mostly true, who's in charge in Canberra doesn't matter that much, it's only the federal government, and the worst thing they could do, embark on an austerity campaign, seems to be off the table. While the carbon price may be abolished, and climate action will be delayed, in the global scheme of things it's all pretty peripheral. Nuclear power may be better received (though I fear it will become a partisan thing and hence ruined - only Nixon could go to China, only the ALP could promote nuclear power). The RET may or may not be fiddled with. The poor will be fucked over just a little more, the middle class will get slightly more undeserving benefits, big business will go along merrily, no real change there, we've already totally scraped the bottom of the barrel on refugees, education and health wont really change (no credit give for Labor's work here), defence wont change.

Mostly for me the problem is that it's symbolic, that a party with little policy and no costings can (and some atrocious local candidates), with the collusion of a billionaire media magnate and a few really dumb slogans, beat a party that has by and large put in some very solid policy work the past six years, despite major internal and external distractions.

In the end it boils down to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd6E1JpwMj4
posted by wilful at 6:28 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coalition briefly endorses mandatory, opt-out, home internet filters before rescinding policy, and then denying it was policy in the first place.
posted by kithrater at 4:53 AM on September 5, 2013


For those worrying about Roger Corbett's Toryness, The Age's strong editorial should provide some relief. A good piece.
posted by wilful at 4:33 PM on September 5, 2013


Are You Scared Yet? The Mugging Of The Australian Electorate
You don’t want to startle a conservative.
posted by de at 5:04 PM on September 5, 2013


Oh, I had no idea we still had a live one here.


Voting Above and Below the Line in the Senate:
Antony Green gets busy. And you should read this, typos and all.
Mad props to Benno and Below The Line and Cluey Voter.

And, La Gina says the Rich Non-Violent Criminals Should Be Able To Buy Their Way Out Of Prison. Because. I would have made a FPP, but there is no way I would have not been modded into "Oh hey, look at this rich asshole" oblivion.

Now, I will be guying gin to save me from the horror of the next few years. I mean. sure, Labor isn't the best. But the Liberals have been a clusterfuck of clusterfuckery this week.
Foreign Aid? Child Care? Internet Filters?
I just don't want to know.
posted by Mezentian at 6:44 AM on September 6, 2013


Coalition's plans to remove the carbon price will cost more than $6bn

Suddenly, releasing the costings at the last minute makes sense.
posted by Mezentian at 7:43 AM on September 6, 2013


I just assume y'all are on MeChat or something, but:
More dramas for the Jaymes Diaz campaign.. His brother Jayson just crashed the campaign van on the way in pic.twitter.com/30y9UwpUHT while executing a six point turn.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to got and drown some sorrows.
posted by Mezentian at 3:53 AM on September 7, 2013


« Older "My first taste of Europe. My first realisation th...  |  "So, that brings me to the Far... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments