Preferences- VALUE ADD

After the debarcle of the last Council election in the Tweed, I am calling for a public education campaign so that people fully understand what preferences mean and how they work. This is particularly important as they operate differently at different levels of government which most people don’t realise.

In THIS election- in the House of Representatives- make it truly representative!

1. A vote for an Independent is NOT a wasted vote- in fact it’s the best value going!

2. If you vote for a candidate who does not get elected, then the value of your vote cascades down to your second preference, then your third, and so on until it hits the candidate who will ultimately be elected.

3. A vote for a major party candidate is a ONE HIT WONDER ie- vote Liberal or Labor and your vote goes no further.

Note- you must number on every box on your ballot form


In the Upper House

1.  you can tick one box above the line


2. You can number (from 1-however many candidates there are) below the line

NOTE: You do NOT have to vote as the major parties tell you to. Make up your own mind and vote how you want to MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT


Preferential Voting

Australia uses the preferential system of voting in elections for the House of Representatives. This means that voters are required to number the candidates on the ballot paper in order of preference. It is not acceptable to vote using ticks and crosses.

To win, a candidate needs to secure an absolute majority, or 50% plus one, of valid votes cast. If a candidate does not secure an absolute majority of primary, or first preference votes, then the candidate with the least number of primary votes is eliminated and his/her votes reallocated in accordance with their second preferences.

This process continues until a candidate has secured 50% plus one of the total votes. Hence, a winning candidate’s majority may be comprised of primary and preference votes. The system ensures that the candidate who is most preferred or least disliked will win………

Following the full allocation of preferences, it is possible to derive a “two-party-preferred” figure, where the votes are divided between the two main candidates in the election. In Australia, this is usually between the Labor and non-Labor candidates.’

Preference Allocation and Deals

The preferential system means that all parties and candidates engage in a process of allocating preferences at elections. Candidates or parties may reach an agreement with other groups to exchange preferences, either in particular seats, or state or nation-wide.

Parties and candidates distribute how-to-vote cards to voters as they enter the polling booths. Historically, these how-to-vote-cards have been regarded as crucial in determining election results.

As the vote for the major parties in elections has declined in recent years, preferences have become more important. It is now common for minor parties and independents to determine election outcomes via their preferences.

“The essence of preferential voting is that voters number candidates on the ballot paper in a rank order of choice. You put the number 1 next to your first choice candidate, 2 next to your second choice, and so on. If your first choice candidate is not elected and no candidate receives half of the vote, your vote may be re-examined for its next preference. The point of the system is to elect the most preferred candidate, to choose the candidate that can build an absolute majority of support in the electorate rather than the simple majority required under first past the post voting………

So preferential voting is like a run-off election, except the run-off is held with the same ballot paper and on the same day. Under special circumstances, it is even possible for candidates who don’t finish first or second to come through and win after the distribution of preferences…..

Until the 1950s, preferential voting essentially worked in this way, allowing competing conservative candidates to contest election, the electoral system working to prevent these contests resulting in Labor victories. But in the period since the Second World War, Australian politics has changed with the emergence of political players other than the three traditional parties.


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