Australians: How are you voting?

In the lead up to the Australian federal election, I’ve spoken to many, many people who do not know how the voting system works. For the moment, I’m only concerned with the House of Representatives, (although Senate voting is worth a mention, too).

The most common misconception I’ve come across is about preferences. I hear things like “I can’t vote for the Greens, since their preferences go to Labor anyway” on a daily basis. So, in the spirit of fighting ignorance, on the eve of the election, I want to get it out there:

In the House of Reps, your vote goes exactly to the people you vote for, and no one else. Preference deals between parties affect only the ‘how to vote’ cards, which are the leaflets handed out before you vote, telling you things like “Vote 1 Greens” and then you’ll notice they have a mock up of the ballot paper, showing the order of preferences that the Greens want you to put down. Probably Labor as preference #2.

So what happens, is when you get that ballot paper, you have to number those candidates in the order of your preference. So if you wanted to vote for the Greens, you put a #1 next to the Greens box. If, then, you really really don’t want Labor, you might considering putting Liberal as your 2nd preference. But be aware, these are your preferences; you are the one who chooses where they go.

The Australian electoral commission explains this very nicely, and I would encourage any Australian who has even a hint of doubt about what I have (clumsily) explained above to please, please, please visit this site: It won’t take long to read, and you’ll be an informed voter!

The Senate process is decidedly more complex, but also important to at least understand how to vote, if not how Senate votes are counted.

So I haven’t asked which political party you’ll be voting for, although I’d be glad to hear about it if you wish to tell me. I’ll be voting for Labor in the House, and intend to vote below the line in the Senate, directing my preferences first towards the Greens, and then Labor, and then we’ll see how the rest goes!

Happy voting!
(this is my first thread, so hoping it’s all in the right place and everything)

I can’t vote, because I’m not a citizen, but I have long thought the AU voting system is completely awful, and unnecessarily complicated. It seems to be deliberately set up to confuse, so that the default two-parties are always chosen, giving third-parties no real chance at all.

I have heard a lot of my contemporaries say they are voting Greens, and yet there is no coverage or poll suggesting this groundswell is making any impact, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow.

All I know is it’s been the most boring Election in memory, and I’ll be glad when it’s over.

I voted last night, because I’ll be out of my electorate tomorrow and I didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of an absentee vote. Judging by the crowds at the polling place, lots of other people were obviously getting in early too.

I didn’t take any of the parties’ How to Vote cards. I don’t need anyone else to advise me on the allocation of my preferences.

I voted below the line for the Senate, which took a few minutes because there are 84 Senate candidates in NSW. There didn’t seem to me to be quite as many oddball parties on the ballot this time, compared with previous years.

Lower House: Greens 1st, Labor 2nd.

Upper House: I’m voting above the line for the Greens. I considered voting below the line, but after looking into the ballot I realised there are just too many parties/candidates I don’t have very detailed knowledge on. The Greens preferences for the parties I do know align pretty well to the relative order that I’d like to place those parties, so I’m going above the line.

(I feel foolishly trusting now that I’ve typed that out and reading that others are voting below the line.)

Brand new citizen as at 30th June, so this is my first time to vote, whee!

Greens then Labor, for both houses, below the line if I can figure it out. If not, Greens above the line.

Would rather be sure my vote counts than to muck it up.

I’m in Labor’s safest seat though, so meh.

I’m in a Labor marginal. I’ve already voted, too.

House of Reps: Greens, then Liberal. (Obviously I put the ALP above Family First, etc., but the party has so disgusted me in the last few months that I doubt I’ll ever vote Labor again.)

Senate: Greens, above the line.

I forgot to add that I voted Liberal in both the House and the Senate.

I recommend checking out below the line, if you’re that way inclined.

It’s useful, isn’t it? It’s been doing the rounds of the office here all week.

I’ll vote early and then drink beer and see how the train wreck unfolds. Being in WA we start to get the results pretty early our time.

I like you anyway. :smiley:

I’ll be voting Liberal in the Reps even though I want Julia to win overall. Our seat is rock solid Labor, so they can win without my help. I want the Liberals to win the next election after they get rid of that buffoon Abbott.

The Senate in the ACT is clear cut. With only two seats, the first will go to Labor and the second is a fight between the Liberals and Greens. In that case voting below the line doesn’t really help if you support one of the major parties, so I’ll be voting Liberal above the line. Senators don’t decide who governs, so I can safely try to get the sitting Liberal back in without it affecting Julia’s chances.

Let’s see, there are five boxes on the ballot and you need to number them 1,2,3,4,5 in the order of your preference. Yep, I can see why you are so confused. That’s positively bizantine. :smack:
Would you care to give the forum a potted summary of how that elegant, simple and clear MMP system works on the other side of the ditch? How’s it go … 63 general electorates, 7 Māori electorates, plus 50 seats that don’t have electorates allocated from the party lists? Sheesh.

The Greens got a lot of traction early on, up to almost 20%, particularly when there was so much confusion in Labor ranks as to who was actually running the campaign. Bob Brown even got a gig at the National Press Club in the last week, so the political hacks are taking them seriously. But they seem to have fallen off the radar more broadly in the last fortnight.

Conventional wisdom is that the Greens will get the balance of power in the Senate. Which sounds good for the Greens but I suspect that it will be the same pyric victory that screwed the Democrats. The Democrats were a safe house for a protest vote. Right up until they won the balance of power and then fractured, crashed and burned over the dilemma of maintaining ideological purity v becoming a player in pragmatic politics. Sorta hard to keep the bastards honest if you are one of the bastards.

I think it’s been very interesting because it’s an election without an incumbent.
Conversely if you wanted big ideas, vision and policy, well the cupboard was bare from the get-go.

IMHO, it’s the most state based election since Joh for PM in '87. You have both Victoria and South Australia fawning over “Our girl Julia, ain’t she done good”. WA apoleptic against Labor over mining taxes. Queensland is spewing that “Our boy Kev, didn’t he get the rough end of the pineapple”, and NSW wanting to take a wire brush to anybody with an connection to a NSW Labor pollie.

I suspect that Julia will get home with a reduced magority. Abbott might squeak in with a barely workable magority if Queensland really does go feral.

For myself, well we have one of Fred Nil’s apostles running, so that neatly takes care of who gets the all important #5 spot. I know the Lib, he’s a thoroughly decent guy so he’ll get #1. The incumbent is a Lab factional stooge who’s only achievement is getting into Hansard complaining about the beef stroganoff in the Parliamentary canteen so he’s #4 and the others, well it doesn’t matter in any practical sense.

Looking forward to one of the best night’s TV for the year.
I know, I know, that’s tragic. Sue me.

Keeping in mind I’ve never voted in the AU elections (as I am not a citizen) the problem I have is you are supposed to mark at least five, sometimes many (many) more, in order of preference, which means you need to know something about each of them to be an informed fair voter. I would imagine the majority of voters know a little bit about two or three of the candidates only, making their remaining numbering random or donkeyed, rendering the necessity of it meaningless. And if you miss any out, or number two of them with the same digit, it makes your entire ballot null and void.

Plus there’s the problem with some voting for parties, some for the candidate, which also potentially messes you up.

The MMP system is unusual, and I didn’t choose that when I voted in the Referendum, but at least it’s better than the FPP system NZ used to have.

The “Party Lists” can be safely ignored by voters; those are decided on by the Party itself, and they’re to make up the shortfall that is calculated from the true proportion of votes the Party got country-wide, instead of only proportion by electorate.

So that means they only need to vote on their local electorate, or if Maori and they so choose, the Maori electorate (not both). It’s actually remarkably simple, and unlikely to confuse.

A good example of where MMP could have worked well is in the US 2004 election, where the overall vote was clearly in the Democrats’ favour, but the balance of States said it went to the Republicans. Proportional Representation like MMP most likely would have reflected a Democrat win.

I’m from the other side of the pond, but I understand it. I’m happy to just get to do it after 8 years here of bitching with no mechanism to actually do anything about it!

Thanks 4eva for helping in the fight against ignornace. Unfortunately, I doubt that many of the people who are confused about preferential voting will bother reading it. I mean they wouldn’t be here in the first place - I am sure dopers know how to vote.

I am not voting this time - I am living in Japan right now and I didn’t get around to postal voting. I am enrolled in a very safe Labor seat, though so I am not too bothered. If I did vote it would be Sociallist, Sociallist (Newcastle has two Socialists who from memory bicker in an unintenionally humerously way ala Life of Brian), Greens, Labor,…, Liberal, Christian Democrat. For the sentate I would give voting below the line a go. I did it last election but in the past I have messed it up and ended up getting a new balot and voting above the line. I agree that some of the small parties make things confusing and they often have deliberately misleading names.

Generally, I think Australia has a pretty good voting system. Maybe optional preferential voting would be better, to simplify things and reduce the number of informal votes. I think they use it in NSW state elections, if my memory is correct. But informal votes are generally only around 4% or 5% and I think a lot of that is intentional.

The tablecloth sized senate ballot is ridiculous, but you can just vote above the line.

For the house of reps, in practice GuanoLad, the only thing that really matters is the relative positions of the major parties and high-profile indepents (if there is one in your electorate). I don’t think too many people agonise over the order of preference for people and parties they have never heard of.

I don’t understand. Why would you do this?

Kodos. No, wait… Kang.

Yeah, that about sums it up, actually.

Happy to see so many “below the liners” coming out here - I’m a total dyed in the wool below the line voter (even in the Melbourne City Council elections where a: I didn’t really give a rats arse who won, b: my vote was only worth half a commercial vote and c: there were 94 candidates :smack:) and I always feel like a bit of an endangered species - we’re only 5% of the country! But the best 5%, of course :wink:

My general voting scheme, I nicked from my husband. It goes:

  1. People I like
  2. Interesting Loonies
  3. People I don’t like
  4. Dangerous Loonies

(more applicable to the Senate … the Reps ballot generally has almost all members of groups 1 and 3 only. Top billing in Group 4 has generally been One Nation - if they still even exist - and the CEC)

I’m probably voting Greens (aka the “I’m punishing Labor for going too right wing” choice) then Labor. I’ve pretty much avoided the campaign so far - I plan to do some internet research tonight to see if there are any interesting minor parties who deserve some of my vote. I had pretty much made up my mind before the campaign on the major parties though - and I’d rather judge them on what they do when they’re NOT in campaign mode than what they promise when they are.