For the benefit of non-Australian readers, Australia has a preferential voting system, which facilitates participation of small and special interest parties. This arrangement has ups and downs. Read on.
There’s a couple of ways to vote on our ‘bedsheet’ ballots. You can vote above the line, for a party. Just a ‘1’ in the box for the party you choose. If that party doesn’t win, they can then allocate your vote according to the party’s preference.
If you don’t like the way any party has allocated preferences, you can vote below the line, numbering each individual candidate in your order of preference. In a Federal Election, this means sequentially numbering about 80 individual squares. If you make errors in your sequencing, your ballot can be declared ‘informal’ or invalid.
Few people can memorise everything about every candidate; It’s difficult to make an informed below-the-line vote while standing at the voting booth. Of course, this prompts a lot of voters to use the above-the-line method.
However, unprincipled preference distributions by parties have had unimaginably bad consequences on occasion, most notably with the election of Family Fist’s (no typo) Steve Fielding, who has been an enormous pain in the ass for the last three years. At very least, Fielding’s bigotry, buffoonery and gaffery has inspired some stellar parody and wit, notably from Twitter’s @FakeFielding.
A new website has been set up to help voters build their below-the-line preferences at home, when they’ve got time and easy access to the internet to research their choices. Naturally, it’s called belowtheline.org.au. It allows you to drag-n-drop candidates to tweak your vote and to print a copy of your selections to make voting day quick and easy.
Some good advice for Labor, who are now struggling in the polls: Dump the internet filtering policy– BEFORE 21 August. I’ll put Labor dead last if you don’t. Please don’t help Tony Abbott drive us to theocracy.
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