Thursday, June 30, 2016

Senate Voting for Dummies: Australia 2016

Despite a degree in political science, I must admit I initially found the recent changes to senate voting a little perplexing. Previously you had a choice of handing over your democratic right to a single party by placing a mark in their box above the line. This is how Labor’s preferences elected a right wing nutbag from Family First in Victoria remember.

The other option was to vote below the line. Ranking every single candidate from 1 – gazillion. Wasn’t that fun!

Now there’s the seemingly complicated system where you choose to either rank preferred parties from 1 – 6 (or more) above the line, or rank individual candidates from 1 – 12 (or more) below the line.

Voting above the line still means your voting for the party, who rank their candidates in the party's preferred order. For example the some parties have 12 candidates under their party banner. Above the line means that you accept the order of the individual candidates in the order that the party puts them in. If you only vote for 1 rather than 6, a newly minted returns officer tells me your vote will still be counted, in the old way. You still open yourself up to all the party’s wheeling and dealing over preferences, like in the bad old days.

Voting below the line is about voting for candidates. Don’t like the order your preferred party has listed their candidates, detest an individual but like their running mates or support a variety of individuals running under different party banners – this is a fantastic option. Now you no longer have to decide who is the worst party in the endless numbering to the bottom and can decide who the most sane or like minded senators might be.

Who do I hate the most? Fun times voting below the line in 2013

Just select your preferred 12 or more candidates in the order you choose. It’s an excellent way to promote some positive affirmation if you would like to preference women or other ‘minorities’ in the Senate.

3 tools to make voting for the senate easier

No idea who on you want to vote for?

For finding 6 parties you don’t entirely hate if you vote above the line:

1.    Sort the wheat from the chaff with Clueyvoter's thumbs up (or double thumbs down sorting system. 
2.    Can't tell the nutbags from the fruitloops? Donkeyvoties offbeat look at each party can be a useful tool to refine your choices. 

A further step for refining your 12 or more candidates below the line

3.  Override party preferences and rank candidates below the line, this DIY senate voting card helps you rank individuals and create your own cheat sheet to take with you to the booth. 

You don’t have to hold a degree in political science to enjoy voting but let’s not do a Brexit by donkey or protest voting.

If you want more women in parliament I encourage you to consider the 3 step approach for below the line voting.

Don’t let any party tell you ‘how to vote’ again!

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