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One Vote Down

I voted in Saturday's Federal election yesterday. Walked down to the Civic where they had a polling place set up. It was a bit of a circus. They had lots of poll workers and there were plenty of children running around. Discarded how-to-vote cards provided a clear indication that the ACT's two electorates, Canberra and Fraser, are set to remain the wealthiest Labor seats in the land.

Voting in Australia is compulsory (as it should be in a Democracy). You get fined if you aren't enrolled or are enrolled and don't vote. It also tends to be fairly complicated. In the lower house, you have to mark numbers in order of preference in the boxes against the candidates' names. A candidate is declared elected if the candidate has more than half the votes cast. If no candidate has this, then the one with the least votes is eliminated and that candidates votes are redistributed according to the preferences. This continues until a candidate is elected. Because voting is compulsory, we have a strange phenomenon known as the donkey vote. This is people who vote straight down the ticket from top to bottom. Thus, politicians like to appear at the top just like jockeys like an inside draw. Why people do this instead of just turning in the ballot blank is beyond me. Since most people vote for one of the top candidates, most of our preferences are never counted.

Voting for the Senate is actually simpler, because you can number all the boxes or just put a 1 against the party (voting "above the line") but counting is far more complex. Each state has twelve senators, of whom half are up for re-election. The state at large votes as one and elects multiple senators. But I don't live in a state. In the ACT we have only two senators, who come up for re-election every time. This might seem to be a real pain for the politician but the reality is that our senators have the safest seats in the land. Senators have to get a quota to be elected, which is the 1/n+1 of the state or territory where n is is the number of seats up for grabs. Since we have two senators, a quota is one third of the vote. What this means is that Senator Kate Lundy, our Labor senator will get elected outright. Then we go to an arcane system of redistribution of preferences explained here as best the electoral commission can. Upshot is that the Liberal, Senator Gary Humphries will also get re-elected, on preferences. How are these preferences determined? Well the real political hacks get together with the Fundamentalist Christians and the Communists and cut a deal in a smoke-filled room. This time, every other party has given their preferences to the Greens. So Green candidate Kerrie Tucker could topple Humphries but only if everybody votes above the line.

Kate, by the way, has my vote. And my admiration.

In a by no means unrelated matter, Telstra Countrywide have rang me up about getting Broadband in this place by the end of the month.

Coming up: the stupid Territory election, which is even more stuffed up.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kerravonsen
6th Oct, 2004 17:42 (UTC)
I voted in Saturday's Federal election yesterday.
Um, how did you manage that?
hawkeye7
7th Oct, 2004 04:54 (UTC)
If you aren't going to be in the state on polling day or one of these fine excuses then you are eligible to cast a pre-poll vote.

I walked down to the Electoral Office where they have set up polling booths and filled in a ballot. This was placed in a envelope with my name and address on it and then in a ballot box by an Electoral Office employee.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )