August 23rd, 2013

standing

Voting joins the electronic age--kind of

No, you still can't vote online in Australia (or any other democracy to the best of my knowledge--there are serious identity issues that would need to be overcome first), but at least I've worked out how to make it easier to number below the line on the unwieldy Senate ballot paper. I'm a big fan of numbering below the line because I'm not happy with any party's preference allocations and it's due to back-room preference deals by the major parties that we get anomalous results like Family First winning a Senate seat in Victoria on 1.8% of the primary vote. The problem is, Senate ballot papers are becoming harder to number below the line. For example, Queensland has 82 candidates and 36 groups. Most people don't do it because it's so hard, and so easy to get it wrong and invalidate your vote. What we really need is voting reform where we can number the groups above the line and just have that count as allocating our preferences in order down the group, but that will be a long time coming. In the meantime, you can get a spreadsheet program to help you get it right, but be warned this is not for the faint of heart. If you're unsure, you're better off just numbering "1" above the line in the box corresponding to your preferred party so you don't waste your vote.

EDIT: Antony Green provides some useful websites for automating this process and points out that you only have to 90% of the squares and still be valid. You can also put a "1" above the line as insurance in case you get your below the line voting wrong.)

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