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Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017, 10:55 am
WA Senate election

Please bear with me as I rant about the WA election. I promise I'll do a Mardi Gras report soon.

On current counting (43.5% counted so far), the anti-science Fluoride Free WA party has won a Senate seat in the WA Senate with 0.36% of the primary vote. When you look at the preference flows, it's obvious they achieved this by gaming the system and getting just about everyone to funnel their preferences to them (I am suspecting most of the "Independents" in that electorate were plants for the Fluoride Free party anyway). It looks like the Flux the System! party tried to do something similar in other electorates, but not as effectively as the fluoride nutters did. I do have grudging respect to them for gaming the system so effectively, but I don't think in the normal course of events a party should win a seat on 0.36% of the vote. It's because of these sort of games that the Senate voting system was reformed in federal elections; I am hoping this motivates the new Labor government to reform the system in a similar way (giving power back to the voters to decide where they want their preferences to go) but seeing as the federal Labor Party opposed the changes so vociferously I don't hold out much hope.

EDIT: It no longer looks like the Fluoride Free WA party will win a seat, but it still looks like the Liberal Democrats, another nutty micro party will pick up a seat (although admittedly with a respectable primary vote), and this man is taking the credit for it. He basically is the reason that voting for the Senate federally has been reformed, so I suppose he has unintentionally done some good.

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 02:31 am (UTC)

Somebody should give them a plaque... oh wait. :P

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 10:51 am (UTC)

Just to play devil's advocate, though, isn't it the point of preferential voting that it's not just whoever gets the biggest share of the primary vote that wins?

Even if they had won a seat — if enough people indicated them as their second/third/... preference, then wouldn't this be the correct outcome, the party's political leanings nonwithstanding? All votes are valid expressions of a voter's will in preferential voting.

Otherwise you could just abolish all votes other than the primary and turn the whole thing back into a first-past-the-post system. Simpler, and it would keep small parties (like this one) from ever having a chance — but that's just why it's not a good system.

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 01:35 pm (UTC)

This would relate to preference deals involving "above the line" votes. The voter votes for a single party, and the party/candidate they voted for directs the preferences rather than the vote simply exhausting.

Also: At the moment it's looking like 3x Labor, 2x Liberals, 1x Greens, so no micro parties.

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 01:59 pm (UTC)

OK — maybe I'm not understanding the exact system used here, then. I simply assumed that it was "voters indicate their order of preference of the parties/candidates". If it's the parties saying "in case we don't make it, assign our votes to ${OTHER_PARTY}", that's a very different case.

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 07:47 pm (UTC)

If the voters indicated their order of preference I would have no problem with it--in fact that's the system they introduced in the federal election and what I would like them to introduce in all the states (except Queensland of course).

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 03:11 pm (UTC)

You might want to elaborate on the system being used, to better make your point.

I presume this bunch is some loony-tune single issue brigade against fluoridation of drinking water, à la General Ripper?

Sun, Mar. 12th, 2017 07:48 pm (UTC)

This rant was more for Australians who I hope would have more familiarity with the system being used. What I said to Schnee above might help you to make more sense of it.