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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
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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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