Misleading instructions on the ballot papers at our election

damianheffernan 25 October 2008 48

Interesting that on our Ballot papers it states: Number five boxes from 1 to 5 in the order of your choice. Then under that: you may then show as many further preferences as you wish by writing numbers from 6 onwards in other boxes. At the bottom of the page you get: Remember, number at least 5 boxes from 1 to 5 in the order of your choice.

Actually according to the website (and the electoral Act):

For ACT Legislative Assembly elections, a “formal” ballot paper is one that is correctly marked by a voter to show at least one first preference.

That’s it. You only had to put a 1 in 1 box. The instructions on the ballot paper and all the associated material never mention this. This is so misleading! I struggled to find one candidate worth voting for let alone 5. This deception benefits the Major Parties as you are forced to put preferences and if you vote for an Independent or someone as unlikely to get elected then basically all your vote is worth is the preferences. As far as I’m concerned Elections A.C.T. stole 4 votes off me, and I want them back.


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48 Responses to Misleading instructions on the ballot papers at our election
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pirate_taco pirate_taco 4:58 pm 28 Oct 12

A Pirate Party member brought the issue of misleading instructions up, so I’ve had a look at the Electoral Act 1992[1] to see where it comes from. The relevant paragraph is Section 132 2(a).

132
Manner of recording vote
(1) An elector shall record his or her vote on a ballot paper by marking
the ballot paper in accordance with subsection (2).
(2) The elector—
(a) shall place consecutive whole numbers starting at ‘1’ in the
number of candidate squares equal to the number of candidates
to be elected so as to indicate preferences; and
(b) may place further consecutive whole numbers in additional
candidate squares so as to indicate additional preferences.

So the Act does specify that voters should be given instruction to preference a number of candidates equal to the number to be elected.
Section 180 deals with the formality of ballot papers, and it does say that a vote is considered formal if the intent to preference at least one person is made clear.

So if anyone is unhappy with the instructions about how many candidates to preference, it’s not just Phillip Green making it up.

Glen Takkenberg
Pirate Party ACT

1. http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1992-71/default.asp

bundah bundah 5:49 pm 21 Oct 12

Masquara said :

chewy14 said :

Caf pointed this to me the other week on here.
All the advice given at the polling place was completely wrong.

Who is this Phillip Green? What are his credentials, if he’s getting the election wrong on more than one front?

Antony Green’s twin?

LegalNut LegalNut 5:46 pm 21 Oct 12

Masquara said :

chewy14 said :

Caf pointed this to me the other week on here.
All the advice given at the polling place was completely wrong.

Who is this Phillip Green? What are his credentials, if he’s getting the election wrong on more than one front?

As you are no doubt aware, Phil Green is the Electoral Commissioner for the ACT. I would presume that his appointment followed a standard public service merit-based selection process which determined that he has the skills and ability to do the job.

Nothing that I saw in this election indicates that he got anything wrong. The wording on the ballot, while arguably misleading, leads to a better outcome than one where people only number one box (or worse, don’t use a number and end up casting an informal ballot). The simple fact is that the Hare-Clarke voting method we use is complicated and the vast majority of voters don’t want to spend the 30 seconds to hear a comprehensive set of instructions on how to complete the ballot.

The fact is that the instructions given, while imperfect, were better than the strict truth as providing strictly the truth (ie you can number as many candidates as you want just make sure you do at least one) would lead to even more exhausted ballots than there already are.

Masquara Masquara 5:00 pm 21 Oct 12

chewy14 said :

Caf pointed this to me the other week on here.
All the advice given at the polling place was completely wrong.

Who is this Phillip Green? What are his credentials, if he’s getting the election wrong on more than one front?

LegalNut LegalNut 4:50 pm 21 Oct 12

johnboy said :

Noting this is a 2008 article, if the advice of officials carrying out their duties is not in accordance with the law then that’s sub-optimal for my money.

The script given to polling officials basically said “Number at least five boxes on the ballot paper from 1 to 5. You may continue to allocate preferences from 6 onwards if you wish.” I saw one person ask how many they HAD to number and they were (correctly) told that it was just 1 for the ballot to be formal.

Personally, I think that the instructions should be to number every box to reduce the number of exhausted votes and to make sure that every vote actually counts. It doesn’t take that long for someone to number 20, 26 or 28 boxes. In fact, the 28 in Ginninderra took me about one minute. A minute every four years to ensure that every vote counts sure sounds like a good use of time.

johnboy johnboy 4:35 pm 21 Oct 12

Noting this is a 2008 article, if the advice of officials carrying out their duties is not in accordance with the law then that’s sub-optimal for my money.

54-11 54-11 4:26 pm 21 Oct 12

Ate said :

So much whinging going on about voting. You have had ample time to read up on the Hare-Clark system before you voted yesterday, it wasn’t sprung upon you. Do the research and make an informed decision come polling day. Feel privileged to live in a society where we actually have the ability to do so.

Exactly. Before polling day, I wrote on on a piece of paper my preferences to take with me, and yesterday wrote 1 – 26 (in Molonglo) on the ballot paper. gave me some pleasure to put Corbell at 26.

So easy, so why all the bitchin’ n’ whingin’?

DrKoresh DrKoresh 3:12 pm 21 Oct 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

This has to be the most illegal and rigged deception ever conjured. It’s like saying “you have to vote for me or else”, without adding “I won’t win”.
Disenfranchised with the whole thing. Total waste of everyone’s time, as bad as X-Factor, as bad as Big Brother, as …..lost for words.

Get over it man! It’s deceptive for pragmatic, not malicious, reasons, it’s not forcing you to vote for any particular party at all, so it’s not ‘rigged’ but even if it were, I’d be interested to hear who you think exactly is doing the rigging. There are so many legitimate problems with our local government (and all parties involved, IMO) that when people latch onto infantile rubbish like this it devalues the discussion of real issues. Same as the people getting all butt-hurt about plastic bags (and even more stupidly, Zed promising to repeal the ban simply to appeal to these simple-minded meatheads), it’s a non-issue when compared to things like policy decisions etc.

Ate Ate 1:53 pm 21 Oct 12

So much whinging going on about voting. You have had ample time to read up on the Hare-Clark system before you voted yesterday, it wasn’t sprung upon you. Do the research and make an informed decision come polling day. Feel privileged to live in a society where we actually have the ability to do so.

Nightshade Nightshade 12:00 pm 21 Oct 12

chewy14 said :

Caf pointed this to me the other week on here.
All the advice given at the polling place was completely wrong.

The polling place staff said what they were instructed to say, so take it up with Elections ACT if you really object to the way they run elections.

chewy14 chewy14 9:46 am 21 Oct 12

Caf pointed this to me the other week on here.
All the advice given at the polling place was completely wrong.

Nightshade Nightshade 9:32 am 21 Oct 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

If it is legal to place only one “1” on the ballot paper and it is a legitimate vote, why does it state on the ballot paper that you have to “number at least 5 boxes from 1 to 5”?
This has to be the most illegal and rigged deception ever conjured. It’s like saying “you have to vote for me or else”, without adding “I won’t win”.
Disenfranchised with the whole thing. Total waste of everyone’s time, as bad as X-Factor, as bad as Big Brother, as …..lost for words.

It’s true that a vote with a number 1 against a single candidate is formal. However, if everyone did that, with the Hare-Clark system, barely anyone would be elected. Look at the results from last night – only Katy and Zed got a quota of 1st preference votes on their own. So we’d have a Legislative Assembly with 2 people in it (actually, just Katy and Zed could be interesting to watch … :). Anyway, the primary vote is spread amongst a large group of people, and is redistributed to a smaller group of people based on preferences. That can’t happen if people don’t indicate what their preferences are.

Personally, I think it would be better if the voting instructions were “your vote will be most effective if you number at least 5 (7) candidates” rather than “you have to number at least 5 (7) candidates”, but that’s not the way the electoral commission chooses to do it.

caf caf 9:23 am 21 Oct 12

poetix said :

It would be interesting to see how things would have turned out with different voting systems; for example the ‘normal’ preferential system.

God, I think I’m turning into Antony Green.

Well, under the “normal” single-member-electorate system, we’d only have 3 MLAs.

On the current results, Gininderra and Molonglo would have elected an ALP candidate, and Brindabella would be down to the wire between ALP and Liberal, but leaning Liberal.

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 8:40 am 21 Oct 12

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

Show me somewhere else in the world where they use Hare Clark(e) FFS.

Tasmania.

Thanks

wildturkeycanoe wildturkeycanoe 12:36 am 21 Oct 12

If it is legal to place only one “1” on the ballot paper and it is a legitimate vote, why does it state on the ballot paper that you have to “number at least 5 boxes from 1 to 5”?
This has to be the most illegal and rigged deception ever conjured. It’s like saying “you have to vote for me or else”, without adding “I won’t win”.
Disenfranchised with the whole thing. Total waste of everyone’s time, as bad as X-Factor, as bad as Big Brother, as …..lost for words.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 9:14 pm 20 Oct 12

Show me somewhere else in the world where they use Hare Clark(e) FFS.

Tasmania.

poetix poetix 8:51 pm 20 Oct 12

It would be interesting to see how things would have turned out with different voting systems; for example the ‘normal’ preferential system.

God, I think I’m turning into Antony Green.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 8:38 pm 20 Oct 12

c_c said :

Interesting thing is will the E-Voting terminals let you submit the ballot with less than 5 preferences filled in. I didn’t try it, but there could be some interesting legal arguments to follow if it’s found the terminals did compel people to fill in 5.

By e voting you mean he barcode and number pad right? I only put 4 numbers in and it accepted it, even after annoying old man stuck is nose in and said you sure that’s your vote?

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 7:19 pm 20 Oct 12

Show me somewhere else in the world where they use Hare Clark(e) FFS.

supamodel supamodel 6:39 pm 20 Oct 12

c_c said :

Interesting thing is will the E-Voting terminals let you submit the ballot with less than 5 preferences filled in. I didn’t try it, but there could be some interesting legal arguments to follow if it’s found the terminals did compel people to fill in 5.

I didn’t use e-voting this year, but in 2008 I did (at Gungahlin). I tried submitting it with only 1 number and that didn’t work – needed a minimum of whatever the number of candidates was. Other than that, I liked e-voting: the barcode used isn’t associated with your name, you’re crossed off the list and someone else gives you the code, then you put the code in the ballot box once you’ve voted. Was nice to know there was some anonymity.

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