I don’t usually do this, especially as we are so fast running out of time to turn this sinking ship around, voting at elections is quickly becoming a farce…. however, having said that, and seeing as voting in Australia is compulsory, here is a little bit of information on how to vote in the most worthwhile way for our Senate that I discovered just yesterday.
As you hopefully know, the government has changed the way we may vote on our complicated Senate ballot paper, with the unambiguous ambition of getting rid of the small parties. In my opinion, it’s the big parties we should get rid of, and here’s how we could do it, though I’m not holding my breath.
You can read the whole explanation here if you’re into maths (like me!) or just follow the strategic bit below……. and share as widely as possible, we need as many people as we can muster to do this and stick it to the laborals…!
What you should try to do is get your vote to the latter part of the count, where it may have significantly higher value because of the counting system deficiency. But you don’t want your vote to get there via excess transfer from an elected candidate, because that will have diminished its final value.
How? I suggest the following:
- Vote below-the-line. Above-the-line voting has lost all utility except for the lazy, now that you only have to correctly number six candidates with the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6 for a below-the-line vote to be valid.
- Make a list of candidates whom you favour but don’t think will be elected. Vote for those first, in order from the least likely to the most likely to be elected, but respecting any candidate preference you may have.
- By way of insurance, and to increase the likelihood of a preferred candidate getting a six year term, make a second list of candidates you favour who are likely to be elected. After voting your first list, append your second list in order from the least likely to be elected to the most likely, again respecting any candidate preferences you may have.
- If you haven’t yet numbered at least six candidates, continue numbering candidates you favour until you have. Your vote will be informal if you do not number at least six candidates in the sequence 1,2,3,4,5,6. Continue numbering candidates you favour as you see fit, preferably up to at least 12 in accordance with the ballot instructions, but avoid mistakes². There are arguments for then proceeding to number candidates you don’t favour on a ‘least worst’ basis, but avoid numbering any candidate you viscerally despise; your vote cannot count towards their election if you don’t number them (‘putting them last’ achieves nothing).
Why? Voting for candidates you favour in reverse order of their likelihood of election gives your vote its best chance of making it to late in the count, where it will have most value, while respecting your core candidate preferences. But don’t forget the 6 year term effect.
Personally I’ll be voting in the state of Queensland and favouring Greens’ candidates … but, tactically, I won’t be giving The Greens’ Larissa Waters an early preference on my ballot. That’s because she’s certain to be elected and doesn’t need my vote. She will get a later preference from me by way of insurance and to increase her likelihood of getting a six year term. Instead I’ll have Andrew Bartlett (probable second on The Greens’ senate list) high in my preference list, because his chances of election are fairly small and I can vote tactically to increase them.
By the way, while I’m often a Labor supporter, I won’t be numbering any Labor senate candidates on my ballot because I strongly disagree with that party’s pro-coal policies, especially their support for new steaming coal mines.