The New Australia Voting System
Australia voting system – In March, parliament passed a new way to vote in the Senate. This new system abolishes party controls and their preferences. How you as a voter will interact with the ballot paper is entirely different now.
Earlier on, parties used to lodge tickets that had an effect on the party’s preferences. The new system eliminates this. Only the preferences filled by voters can now flow between parties.
Yes, the parties can distribute materials on how to vote but they will not determine the between-party preferences.
Parliament was faced with some choices before it could abolish party preference tickets. Should the Senate voting be optional? Should it be a full preferential voting?
The decision arrived at was in favor of optional preferential voting. The ballot paper is retained as follows: voters can vote “below the line” where they pick individual candidates. They can also vote “above the line” and accept the ordering for each candidate per party.
Voting for local House member remains unchanged, except voting for candidates and parties in the Senate.
Continue reading below to learn tips on how to correctly fill your ballot paper.
Voting in the House – Australia Voting System
A small green ballot paper is used to vote for the local House of Representatives member. For the first time, party logs will come alongside the House ballot paper. The manner in which the papers are filled has not changed.
All the squares in the green House ballot paper are to be numbered. A valid sequence of numbers starting from 1 to the total number of candidates is required. There are some instances that will make your vote informal:
- Duplicating a number on the ballot paper
- Missing a number in the sequence
- Numbering only one square
Thus be careful and number every square
The Senate ballot papers will ask you to number only 6 or 12 boxes. The same direction is not applicable on the House ballot paper. If the candidates exceed six, do not stop at number six. You can continue to the end.
Fill the Senate Ballot Paper
For “above the line,” number at least six boxes while “below the line” number at least 12 boxes.
It is not a requirement that 6 or 12 be your stopping point. This is just the minimal number. Fill free to number up to the very end of candidates list.
Voting Below the Line
You are not restricted by the parties associated with candidates while voting BTL (Below the Line). Your vote will still count if you voted for candidates from different parties. For example, you will not be wrong if you voted for all female candidates.
If you have the intention of voting for a certain party candidates but disagree with the ordering, BTL solves this problem. You are able to vote for the party you want, but re-order the candidates.
Be very careful on ATL (Above the Line) where you number 1 to 6. Missing a number before 6 makes your vote informal. Instructions are that you vote for at least 12 candidates. A more effective vote is one that goes past this number.
One advantage that the new system brings is the freedom of numbering the squares below the line. It is no longer a requirement that you number each and every one of it.
Bear in mind the rule: number or vote in the senate and House member in the order you want them elected.
Is a Single 1 Formal Anymore? Australia Voting System
In the past 32 years, a single 1 for ABT used to be formal. The new system makes it informal. The instructions remain that you have to fill in at least 6 squares for above the line.
However, 95% of the voters are used to a single 1. So how do we avoid the problem of too many informal votes by the unaware voters? The Act includes a “Savings” provision. Any ballot that has a valid first preference ABT will not become informal.
What About Voting Above and Below The Line? – Australia Voting System
The instructions are that you either vote above the line OR below the line. Mixing and matching the two may or may not make your vote informal. That will depend on what you fill in and the manner in which you maintain the formality rules in mind.
Within the savings provision of the Act, a ballot box that is marked ABT or BTL will still be formal if interacts with the formality rules appropriately.
Get to learn more about the new Australia voting system so as to avoid making an informal vote.
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