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One number still valid on Senate ballot paper

By ScottyW 20 June 2016 57

Senate ballot paper sample

Given the advertising starting this weekend on the new rules for voting for the Senate, the Australian Electoral Commission is keeping very quiet on the fact you can still just number one box above the line and your vote is still valid and will get counted.  It’s called the Savings Provision and in a nutshell “Under one of these provisions, voters can put just one number in a box above the line and their vote would still be considered formal.”

I am not remotely interested in politics, and there is simply no way I could make an informed ranked vote for six parties.  On election day I will be signifying my clear intent by numbering one number above the line for the Senate.  I encourage anyone who is in the same boat as me to do the same – it might make the AEC reconsider the changes for the next election.

What’s Your opinion?


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One number still valid on Senate ballot paper
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HenryBG 11:57 am 28 Jun 16

dungfungus said :

pink little birdie said :

I just do not understand why the AEC does not promote the “vote savings provisions” if they are as you claim, legislated for.

Read the legislation, it’s easy to see why the AEC are doing this. They have to by law. The legislation includes wording to include on ballot papers.

The legislation says that voters “need” to number 1-6 or 1-12, this is the law about “how to cast a vote” and this is what the AEC say. The laws of “how to count a vote” allow more flexibility than those for casting a vote.

I imagine a substantial proportion of voters are just going to put a 1 (or 1 to a number less than 6) above the line. I also imagine a small (hopefully, very small… unless they were for Derryn Hinch) fraction of these are going to mistakingly classed as informal.

Exhausted votes erode at the footings of our compulsory voting system

Lenient 11:22 am 28 Jun 16

pink little birdie said :

I just do not understand why the AEC does not promote the “vote savings provisions” if they are as you claim, legislated for.

Read the legislation, it’s easy to see why the AEC are doing this. They have to by law. The legislation includes wording to include on ballot papers.

The legislation says that voters “need” to number 1-6 or 1-12, this is the law about “how to cast a vote” and this is what the AEC say. The laws of “how to count a vote” allow more flexibility than those for casting a vote.

I imagine a substantial proportion of voters are just going to put a 1 (or 1 to a number less than 6) above the line. I also imagine a small (hopefully, very small… unless they were for Derryn Hinch) fraction of these are going to mistakingly classed as informal.

rommeldog56 10:14 am 28 Jun 16

TuggLife said :

To quote a media release from the Electoral Commissioner on 13 May:

“The Electoral Commissioner, Mr Tom Rogers, said he was aware of recent commentary about how to correctly complete the Senate ballot paper. This follows changes to the Senate voting system passed by Parliament in March 2016.

The AEC’s role is to instruct people to vote according to the legislation. For the Senate, the legislation requires voters to either number at least six boxes above the line for the parties or groups of their choice, or to number at least 12 boxes below the line for individual candidates of their choice. The AEC’s public education campaign follows the legislation.

How voters mark their Senate ballot paper determines whether their vote can be counted, how their preferences will flow to the candidates they have chosen and when their vote exhausts. Voters are encouraged to follow the instructions on the ballot paper, or there is a risk their vote may be informal and won’t be included in the count.

Mr Rogers said the legislation also includes ‘vote savings’ provisions, which have been in existence for many, many years. ‘Vote savings’ provisions are, in effect, instructions to help staff conducting the count understand how to deal with the many ways that a ballot paper could have been marked by the voter.

‘Vote savings’ provisions make sure a vote can still be counted where the voter has made their intention clear, despite not precisely following the instructions on the ballot paper. The ‘vote savings’ provisions provide that those ballot papers marked above the line with a one only (or a sequence of numbers less than six) and bearing no other mistakes or formality issues will be included in the count.

Mr Rogers urged voters to use the practice voting tool available on the AEC website (www.aec.gov.au) and follow the instructions on the ballot paper to avoid inadvertently casting an informal vote.”

http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/05-13e.htm

So, AEC staff have to explain what the laws say around marking the ballot paper, but there are additional laws which allow a vote that doesn’t follow the rules to still be counted.

All in all, the law, being written and passed by politicians, isn’t straightforward.

I suppose it all depends on what the vote counters (as opposed to electoral booth staff) actually do count. If these “vote savings provisions” for the senate actually apply and will be enforced, I just do not understand why the ACEs website does not say that. If you only put 1 above the line on the AECs own practice senate voting paper, its not allowed. :

http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_vote/practice/practice-senate.htm

I just do not understand why the AEC does not promote the “vote savings provisions” if they are as you claim, legislated for.

So, to ensure that my vote is valid, I feel that I have no choice other than to vote 1 to 6 above the line or 1 to 12 below in the Senate. Bugger.

wildturkeycanoe 5:07 pm 27 Jun 16

dungfungus said :

Ummm, there are 12 Parties standing in the ACT Senate? The odds of there being 1 Labor and 1 Lib, as per usual is probably pretty high.

There are 4 candidates in the seat of Canberra & 5 in the seat of Fenner (also in the ACT).l’d assume the chance of the Liberals winning either of those seats is largely dependant on if they put in a good enough candidate to unseat the established Labor candidates by convincing the public they are better options?

I’ve really got know idea who anyone campaigning for the House of Reps seats in the ACT are, other than Andrew Leigh. (apart from reading the AEC website for some names) The rest all have a pretty low profile, which doesn’t augur well for their chances.

Oops, my bad, I meant House of Reps. The big policies being the gay rights and immigration will probably see Labor get the majority because the other two minor parties are closer to Labor in ideology. I have a feeling that this is pretty much a referendum on the issue. If Libs do not get by on first preferences, it’d be logical that the rest of their preferences will go to the minor parties or Labor, leaving them with little chance of a comeback on second choice as there isn’t another party supporting them.

Lenient 4:53 pm 27 Jun 16

“One number still valid on Senate ballot paper “

Technically true, but you are at the mercy of electoral staff correctly implementing the savings provisions. I personally don’t want to be disenfranchised because staff made a mistake not picked up by the scrutineers. Remeber this is the first election under the new rules, mistakes will happen.

On a related note, there will be many many wasted votes this election. Some parties are even putting out HTV instructions that will mean votes won’t go to an elected candidate or someone contesting the last elected candiate. Examples include Sex Party and Veterans, at least in NSW. If I was doing a HTV card, I would say after numbering 1-6 make sure you give some numbers to candidates that stand at least a half decent chance. HTV cards that say to give 1-6 to fringe groups might as well say to rip your ballot paper into confetti. I know some people are hanging for a “none of the option” but everybody must a least hated option.

Ghettosmurf87 3:35 pm 27 Jun 16

bigred said :

With only four parties to vote for, what are the odds we will end up with either Labor for the ACT senate? Seems the other 2 prefer the policies of our current mob, so really there is bugger all chance Liberal can go against the odds stacked against them.

Ummm, there are 12 Parties standing in the ACT Senate? The odds of there being 1 Labor and 1 Lib, as per usual is probably pretty high.

There are 4 candidates in the seat of Canberra & 5 in the seat of Fenner (also in the ACT).l’d assume the chance of the Liberals winning either of those seats is largely dependant on if they put in a good enough candidate to unseat the established Labor candidates by convincing the public they are better options?

I’ve really got know idea who anyone campaigning for the House of Reps seats in the ACT are, other than Andrew Leigh. (apart from reading the AEC website for some names) The rest all have a pretty low profile, which doesn’t augur well for their chances.

wildturkeycanoe 3:03 pm 27 Jun 16

With only four parties to vote for, what are the odds we will end up with either Labor for the ACT senate? Seems the other 2 prefer the policies of our current mob, so really there is bugger all chance Liberal can go against the odds stacked against them.

Ghettosmurf87 2:48 pm 27 Jun 16

To quote a media release from the Electoral Commissioner on 13 May:

“The Electoral Commissioner, Mr Tom Rogers, said he was aware of recent commentary about how to correctly complete the Senate ballot paper. This follows changes to the Senate voting system passed by Parliament in March 2016.

The AEC’s role is to instruct people to vote according to the legislation. For the Senate, the legislation requires voters to either number at least six boxes above the line for the parties or groups of their choice, or to number at least 12 boxes below the line for individual candidates of their choice. The AEC’s public education campaign follows the legislation.

How voters mark their Senate ballot paper determines whether their vote can be counted, how their preferences will flow to the candidates they have chosen and when their vote exhausts. Voters are encouraged to follow the instructions on the ballot paper, or there is a risk their vote may be informal and won’t be included in the count.

Mr Rogers said the legislation also includes ‘vote savings’ provisions, which have been in existence for many, many years. ‘Vote savings’ provisions are, in effect, instructions to help staff conducting the count understand how to deal with the many ways that a ballot paper could have been marked by the voter.

‘Vote savings’ provisions make sure a vote can still be counted where the voter has made their intention clear, despite not precisely following the instructions on the ballot paper. The ‘vote savings’ provisions provide that those ballot papers marked above the line with a one only (or a sequence of numbers less than six) and bearing no other mistakes or formality issues will be included in the count.

Mr Rogers urged voters to use the practice voting tool available on the AEC website (www.aec.gov.au) and follow the instructions on the ballot paper to avoid inadvertently casting an informal vote.”

http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2016/05-13e.htm

So, AEC staff have to explain what the laws say around marking the ballot paper, but there are additional laws which allow a vote that doesn’t follow the rules to still be counted.

All in all, the law, being written and passed by politicians, isn’t straightforward.

rommeldog56 11:07 am 27 Jun 16

Masquara said :

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

No need to call. Check out the youtube link on the AEC website aec.gov.au .

It clearly says that for the Senate above the line, you must number 1 to 6 at least or below the line, 1 to 12 at least for the vote to be valid.

On the previous page I linked to the recently-passed senate voting reform bills. It’d probably make more sense to link to the updated act, which is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/

The updated bit about senate voting is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s239.html

And it indeed specifies 1 – 6 for above the line voting. However, it specifically notes Section 269, which is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s269.html

That clearly states a single square marked above the line is “not informal”, and that sequential numbers (that are not repeated) are also valid, or more specifically, not to be disregarded.

Thanks Russ. Clarification is much appreciated as it will actually change who i vote for above the line.

However, the AEC website Youtube link still says (as of right now) that you MUST vote 1-6 at least above the line in the Senate, for it to be a valid vote. You have to wonder if/how this will affect voting – especially for those who have already pre voted and have been told by AEC staff that they must number at least 1 to 6 above the line.

Russ 10:08 am 27 Jun 16

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

No need to call. Check out the youtube link on the AEC website aec.gov.au .

It clearly says that for the Senate above the line, you must number 1 to 6 at least or below the line, 1 to 12 at least for the vote to be valid.

On the previous page I linked to the recently-passed senate voting reform bills. It’d probably make more sense to link to the updated act, which is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/

The updated bit about senate voting is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s239.html

And it indeed specifies 1 – 6 for above the line voting. However, it specifically notes Section 269, which is here:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s269.html

That clearly states a single square marked above the line is “not informal”, and that sequential numbers (that are not repeated) are also valid, or more specifically, not to be disregarded.

Maya123 9:24 pm 26 Jun 16

Matt Watts said :

creative_canberran said :

JC said :

If u want to look at disappointed, have u seen the number and the quality of candidates in House of Reps – Canberra electorate in particular ?

Very ordinary.

From what I can see, we only have 4 people to choose between in each electorate, consisting of four parties [Labor, Liberal, Greens and Bullet train for Canberra] and one independent for the south.
What kind of a choice is that?
Labor and Greens want a tram, I do not. Bullet Train party obviously likes things on rails. All I have left is Liberal, whom I do not want in charge of our health, education or anything else they can get their paws on. I have nobody to vote for, period! What a total disaster.
Even if I could vote for the independent on the Northside, he is no doubt also in support of the tram, pretty much the only way to gain favor with the Gunners electorate.
I’m over it… just can not win no matter who I pick.

Isn’t this the federal election in which case trams don’t really matter.

Yes, this is the federal election. Trams aren’t part of it.

wildturkeycanoe 7:14 pm 26 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

If a Federal level Party promised to pass a law preventing the ACT town council from raising our rates by multiples of CPI, then you wouldn’t have much of a quandary.

Otherwise, it’s a bit puzzling what you are on about.

Whoever you vote for in the ACT election won’t be making Immigration policy or tax laws.

The Federal government will be taking care of the big end of town, as usual, vandalising the NBN some more, failing to collect tax from multinational corporations, allowing our mineral resources to be plundered for private profit and/or giving people smugglers the green light to restart the invasion.

Matt Watts said :

Isn’t this the federal election in which case trams don’t really matter.

For state issues, such as the Barton Highway duplication, the federal election is as important as the state election, because that’s where the big dollars come from. I seriously doubt that voting for a Liberal Federal government will not impact on local Labor politics. They are all in cahoots with one another, so it matters a lot who you put in the Senate and house of Reps, for small town issues that require their funding. What about public service jobs? I bet you’d think twice if you voted for a federal party and found a heap of funding cuts to the P.S., expecting local governance from the opposition to look after them.
As it is, all the major party are making promises for the barton Highway anyway, so it is going to be a matter of who you believe will not backflip, even though all of them have done so on so many promises in the past.
Another point of contention is gay marriage. Whichever view you have, voting for one party federally may have a big impact locally as we have already seen. Hence my crisis.
Independents are looking a lot more promising, if only we had the choice to choose them.

Lurker2913 6:02 pm 26 Jun 16

The problem with our country is the apethetic slackers who vote. Watch Twitchike on ABC iView it will make you reconsider compulsory voting.

The major parties like compulsory voting because it is literally a toss of a two dollar coin to see which party gets the vote and the cash.

JC 1:11 pm 26 Jun 16

creative_canberran said :

JC said :

If u want to look at disappointed, have u seen the number and the quality of candidates in House of Reps – Canberra electorate in particular ?

Very ordinary.

From what I can see, we only have 4 people to choose between in each electorate, consisting of four parties [Labor, Liberal, Greens and Bullet train for Canberra] and one independent for the south.
What kind of a choice is that?
Labor and Greens want a tram, I do not. Bullet Train party obviously likes things on rails. All I have left is Liberal, whom I do not want in charge of our health, education or anything else they can get their paws on. I have nobody to vote for, period! What a total disaster.
Even if I could vote for the independent on the Northside, he is no doubt also in support of the tram, pretty much the only way to gain favor with the Gunners electorate.
I’m over it… just can not win no matter who I pick.

Isn’t this the federal election in which case trams don’t really matter.

rommeldog56 10:24 am 26 Jun 16

Kim Huynh said :

OK this is all rather confusing now, I am going to call the AEC and a few other places on monday and try to get a definitive answer on wether less than 6 numbers above the line in the senate is valid or not. This article could potentially lead to a lot of unintended informal votes if this advice in the OP is actually wrong as it is looking like at this stage.

No need to call. Check out the youtube link on the AEC website aec.gov.au .

It clearly says that for the Senate above the line, you must number 1 to 6 at least or below the line, 1 to 12 at least for the vote to be valid.

I assume the info on the AEC website is correct – not what has been proffered on Ray Hadley’s radio show, despite what the the AEC Commissioner said.

As u say, confusing.

Mordd 7:28 pm 25 Jun 16

OK this is all rather confusing now, I am going to call the AEC and a few other places on monday and try to get a definitive answer on wether less than 6 numbers above the line in the senate is valid or not. This article could potentially lead to a lot of unintended informal votes if this advice in the OP is actually wrong as it is looking like at this stage.

dungfungus 12:23 pm 25 Jun 16

rommeldog56 said :

Masquara said :

rommeldog56 said :

Masquara said :

I would suggest to everybody to be on the safe side and number at least six squares as the Electoral Commission is advising in their advertising.

Ray Hadley on 2GB/2CC has been telling everybody to only put a 1 in one square but listeners are phoning and sending emails to him saying that EC staff at polling booths are telling voters to number at least six squares. So it is clear that on polling day when the votes are being counted, Electoral Commission staff will be disregarding any ballot papers with fewer than six squares numbered and counting them as informal.

I also note a small ad in today’s Daily Telegraph from the Katter Australia Party telling everybody to number every square and put The Greens last. So even the people and parties who would be most likely to follow Ray Hadley’s advice are ignoring him, eager to make sure their supporters don’t invalidate their vote.

Hadley isn’t dumb. No doubt he is telling people that becuse less valid votes overall means more valid votes to the majors. The Libs don’t want any minor parties to be in control of the Senate.

The Electoral Commissioner – the big boss of elections – said on Hadleys radio show that for the Senate, if you put just 1 in a box above the line, it is a valid vote.

You dont have to mark 1 through 6. You can apparently also mark 1 through 4 or what ever. You don’t need to go to 6 above the line. Hadley replays that interview on his show each time a listener advises that in a pre poll booth, the electoral staff say u have to mark 1 through 6 above the line or else it will be informal.

So there seems to be a disconnect between what the Electoral Commissioner says and what some pre-polling booth staff are telling voters to do.

Where that leaves us in terms of a valid election outcome, god only knows…….

Correction : AECs website says that for the Senate above the line, you MUST mark 1 to 6 at least for it to be a valid vote.

This is Canberra – we do things differently here.

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