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: http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/hor_count.htm. It won’t take long to read, and you’ll be an informed voter!
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!
(this is my first thread, so hoping it’s all in the right place and everything)