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Misleading instructions on the ballot papers at our election

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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48 Responses to
Misleading instructions on the ballot papers at our election
Spectra 9:36 pm 25 Oct 08

It turns out, on further reading, that while I’m familiar with the operation, I’m not familiar with the spelling of Hare-Clark. My apologies to Mr Clark 🙂

Spectra 9:34 pm 25 Oct 08

Ellingly: That’s an interesting point about electronic voting – I admit I hadn’t considered it. However it sounds like the same ability to non-vote exists there too.

Damien: In the interests of being a bit more informative than just saying “no, you’re wrong”, here’s Wikipedia’s article on the Single Transferable Vote system (which is the generic name for what we call Hare Clarke). I can assure you that after your first (and latter) preferences are excluded your vote very much continues to count. And…

It’s not like they go through all your preferences and allocate down to the 17th.

Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like, if you numbered them that far and your earlier preferences are excluded or have reached over-quota.

ellingly 9:23 pm 25 Oct 08

… note that I was voting in Molongolo, hence 7.

ellingly 9:23 pm 25 Oct 08

Notably, the electronic voting system would not let you put in less than 7 candidates. And most certainly it would not let you do a donkey vote. What one could have done is to grab the barcode they give you and chuck it straight into the ballot box.

Spectra 9:12 pm 25 Oct 08

Damian: I’m pretty familiar with how Hare Clarke works, thanks. And if it’s all the same with you, I’m just going to stand by my original post.

Skidbladnir 6:07 pm 25 Oct 08

Damian, I suspect you are almost as far from correct as anyone can be, before they have to turn around and start coming back.
However I would like to hear this theory of yours.

Please, explain Hare Clarke to us, preferably making reference to every single instance where someone got it wrong..

johnboy 5:45 pm 25 Oct 08

damianheffernan said :

@spectra
have a read of how Hare Clark works. You are wasting every one of your preferences after the candidate you preferenced first is excluded. It’s not like they go through all your preferences and allocate down to the 17th.

The Hare Clark system favours Parties and is hard on minors and independents.

I’m pretty sure you’re wrong here Damian.

damianheffernan 5:23 pm 25 Oct 08

@spectra
have a read of how Hare Clark works. You are wasting every one of your preferences after the candidate you preferenced first is excluded. It’s not like they go through all your preferences and allocate down to the 17th.

The Hare Clark system favours Parties and is hard on minors and independents.

Spectra 4:54 pm 25 Oct 08

As far as I’m concerned Elections A.C.T. stole 4 votes off me, and I want them back.

Okay, that’s just about the stupidest thing I’ve read this year.

Nobody can force you to put a number anywhere. The nature of our secret ballot system is such that if you don’t want to vote for anyone, you can quite easily do so by not putting a number in any boxes. Yes, it may be illegal in the most technical of senses, but those who drafted the laws must have done so in the understanding that in a secret ballot it is impossible to enforce mandatory formal voting. All you have to actually do is turn up an get your name marked off.

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.

How? If you really do insist on numbering multiple boxes, put all your numbers for independents or other people unlikely to get elected. No benefit to the major parties, problem solved.

Bugger me – if this is the biggest problem with our electoral system, we should be dancing in the streets.

(For what it’s worth, I number every box – stuffed if I’m going to have my preferences exhausted).

I am confused. My wife said she voted (for the first time)according to the Green “How to vote” card which only gave three people 1,2,3. Was her vote counted??

Almost certainly – from conversations I’ve had in the past with scrutineers, the bent is very much towards trying to value a vote as close to the intent as possible. Even an X in a single candidate tends to get treated as a ‘1’ for them. (I’m not a scrutineer myself, so don’t quote me on this, but it would seem to be in line with what jimbocool says the election act says).

ChrisinTurner 3:17 pm 25 Oct 08

I am confused. My wife said she voted (for the first time)according to the Green “How to vote” card which only gave three people 1,2,3. Was her vote counted??

Woody Mann-Caruso 1:54 pm 25 Oct 08

Here, you dropped these straws. Maybe you shouldn’t clutch at them so hard.

trevar 1:46 pm 25 Oct 08

There is a difference between how to vote, and what is required for a vote to be counted. The Act needs to specify the minimum requirement, but the instructions on the ballot paper should help you make the most of your vote. It can only benefit the major parties if you put a number in one or more of their boxes.

Nonetheless, I think Deano is absolutely right. A ‘none of the above’ option that forces us to come back a week later and try again to get reasonable candidates would not only make the candidates more responsible for their policies, it would also encourage lazy voters to get it right the first time so we don’t have to keep wasting our Saturdays at the polling booth.

I think it would be better still, though, if elections were always held on Mondays or Fridays, and you didn’t have to go to work on that day. That way you could have a long weekend to compensate (partially) for having to listen to all the pollies’ crap for six months.

jimbocool 12:36 pm 25 Oct 08

The relevant part of the ACT electoral act requires the electoral commission to ‘instruct’ voters to put 1 to 5 or 1 to 7. However, as long as there is a valid first preference indicated, it counts as a formal vote. It’s a delicate distinction, but that’s the law – cue Jakez and something about libertarianism.

Deano 11:36 am 25 Oct 08

I reckon the ballot papers should have a ‘None of the above’ option. If ‘None of the above’ won then there would be a another election where all of the previous candidates were barred from standing.

ant 10:57 am 25 Oct 08

I think our council elections used the same system: parties had an above the line option, and just numbering one box above the line was a valid vote.
However, if you voted for individuals below the line, you had to number at least 5 boxes for it to count.

Is this the same in the ACT?

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