Preferential Voting – Multi-Member

2021 WA Election – How the Daylight Saving Party turned 98 votes into a seat in the Legislative Council

The election of Wilson Tucker from the Daylight Saving Party at March’s Western Australian election has become the catalyst for abolishing group voting tickets in Western Australia.

Mr Tucker polled 98 votes or just 0.2% of the vote in the vast Mining and Pastoral Region. His low vote is not surprising as four referendums over five decades have shown little support for daylight saving in this vast region covering the state’s most remote areas.

Anyone familiar with how to engineer results using group voting tickets knows the system can elect parties with little support. But even I, with two decades of covering the perversity of elections using group voting tickets, find myself startled that such an egregious distortion of the electorate’s will could be constructed.

It is the most magnificent example of preference harvesting yet achieved by well-known preference ‘whisperer’ Glenn Druery. It is the crowning glory of his art, but will also be the death knell of the group voting ticket system he used to achieve it.

The back-story to Mr Tucker’s election gets even weirder. Tucker left Western Australia three years ago and has been working as a software engineer for Amazon on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Seattle. It is a better paid job than his new four year position in the WA Legislative Council. That is assuming, in this period of pandemic, he can get a flight back, is allowed entry to Australia and can cross the Western Australian border. (Update: I’m informed Mr Tucker has arrived back ready to take his seat.) Tucker’s term is due to begin on 22 May. If he is unable to return and vacates the seat, a re-count would create the farcical situation where his his running mate, Janet Wilson, would take his seat despite receiving zero votes at the state election.Read More »2021 WA Election – How the Daylight Saving Party turned 98 votes into a seat in the Legislative Council

WA’s Zonal Electoral System and the Legislative Council Reform Debate

This post is a detailed look at Western Australia’s zonal electoral system ahead of a major review of how the Legislative Council is elected.

The malapportionment that applied to lower house boundaries was abolished with the introduction of one-vote one-value electoral boundaries at the 2008 election.

But malapportionment remains for the Legislative Council, and was in fact made worse by changes to region representation in 2008.

The bias in the electoral system against Perth has drifted out from 2.80-to-1 when the current system was adopted in 1989, to 3.07-to-1 in 2021.

But this hides another developing bias, an increased weighting against voters in South West Region. Where in 1989 average enrolment per MLC in the three non-metropolitan regions was equal, by the 2021 election, average enrolment in Agricultural Region and Mining and Pastoral Region had blown out to a ratio of 2.81-to-1 against voters in South West Region.

Western Australia’s current electoral regions defined by land usage rather than population is unsustainable given demographic trends.

The McGowan government has appointed a Ministerial Expert Committee chaired by QC and former WA Governor Malcolm McCusker to examine reform options for the Legislative Council. The existing malapportionment of the Legislative Council’s electoral system is one amongst several issues it will be addressing. (You can find details of the Committee here)

In this post I set out in detail the problems with the current malapportionment. In future posts I’ll return to other issues such as whether Western Australia should follow the Commonwealth, New South Wales and South Australia by abolishing group voting tickets for elections to the upper house.
Read More »WA’s Zonal Electoral System and the Legislative Council Reform Debate

2018 Tasmanian election – Animations of the Distributions of Preferences

Thanks to the excellent animation work of the ABC’s Markus Mannheim, I’ve pulled together animations that show the distribution of preferences in all five seats at the 2018 Tasmanian election.

These are good illustration of how the system works to fit seats to votes recorded by candidate.

Below the animation on each page I have included some notes on the key points in each count.Read More »2018 Tasmanian election – Animations of the Distributions of Preferences

Bass – Distribution of Preferences – 2018 Tasmanian Election

To help explain the mysteries of the Hare-Clark electoral system, I’ve prepared a series of posts that summarise the key points of the distribution of preferences in the five electorates at the 2018 Tasmanian election.

This post summarises the count in Bass.

An important point I feel needs to be stressed is that while the Hare-Clark counting system is complex, voting is NOT complex.

All preferences in the Hare-Clark system are under the control of you the voter. Parties and candidate have no say on how preferences on your ballot paper are counted.

All you need to do is number a minimum of five preferences for your vote to be counted as formal. And you are free to keep numbering preferences beyond five if you want to order other candidates. If you number candidates in the order you would like to them elected, then the complex counting system will apply your votes to your chosen candidates in the order that you specified.

Some people like to bet their preference order against how every one else will vote. Unless you want to spend a lot of time researching guestimates of how candidates will poll, the best tactic to adopt is the one I stated above – simply number candidates in the order you would like to see them elected.
Read More »Bass – Distribution of Preferences – 2018 Tasmanian Election

Close of Nominations – 2021 Tasmanian Election

A total of 105 candidates have nominated to contests the 2021 Tasmanian election on 1 May. That’s down from 109 candidates in 2018 and 126 in 2014, but up on the very low 89 that contested then 2010 election.

This is the seventh election since the House of Assembly was reduced to 25 seats, and 105 candidates is the third lowest since the change.
Read More »Close of Nominations – 2021 Tasmanian Election

2021 WA Election – Legislative Council Update

6 April – all six regions have been declared and I’ve included the updated results in the table below. There is more detail on the final result in each region at the ABC’s Legislative Council results page.

WA Legislative Council – Projected results

Region ALP LIB NAT GRN OTH
East Metropolitan 4 1 .. .. 1
North Metropolitan 4 2 .. .. ..
South Metropolitan 4 1 .. 1 ..
Agricultural 3 1 2 .. ..
Mining and Pastoral 4 1 .. .. 1
South West 3 1 1 .. 1
Council (36 seats) 22 7 3 1 3
Change +8 -2 -1 -3 -2

The ‘Other’ seats are two Legalise Cannabis WA and one Daylight Saving Party. The parties that no longer have representation in the Legislative Council are Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (-2), the Liberal Democrats (-1), Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (-1) and the Western Australian Party (-1).
Read More »2021 WA Election – Legislative Council Update

Rates of ‘Below the Line’ Voting at the 2017 WA Legislative Council Election

This is a post for those who want to follow the output from the ABC’s Legislative Council election calculator once its starts running with live result data.

The calculator assumes that all votes cast are ticket or ‘above the line’ (ATL) votes. In close contests, the relatively small number of below the line (BTL) votes may impact on the prediction by causing a drift away from the party’s preference ticket.

For anyone interested in assessing the accuracy of calculator predictions, this post contains relevant data from 2017 on the rates of BTL voting by party, vote type and region.

In summary, the 2017 data indicates that the rate of BTL voting has little relationship to the region in which a vote is cast, or the type of vote (postal, pre-poll etc) used by a voter.

Where real differences occurs is in the relationship between a voter’s first preference party choice and the likelihood of choosing to cast a BTL vote. Read More »Rates of ‘Below the Line’ Voting at the 2017 WA Legislative Council Election

WA’s Experiment with Lower House Ticket Voting

Divided Senate ballot papers and Group Voting Tickets were first introduced for Senate elections in 1984. They were later adapted for use in the four mainland states with Legislative Councils, South Australia in 1985, NSW in 1988, Western Australia in 1989 and Victoria finally in 2006.

Divided ballot papers remain in use for electing upper houses in all jurisdictions. However, group voting tickets (GVTs), allowing parties to control between-party preferences, have fallen out of favour. GVTs were abolished in NSW in 2003, for the Senate in 2016 and in South Australia in 2018. GVTs are still part of the upper house voting system in Victoria and Western Australia.

All states except Western Australia adopted the Senate’s horizontal ballot paper where groups are listed left to right, with voters given the option of voting ‘above the line’ for party groups, or ‘below the line’ for lists of candidates. Western Australia finally adopted this ballot paper in 2017.

The original WA upper house ballot paper listed parties and groups vertically. Voters were given the choice of voting for groups on the left of the ballot paper, or for candidates on the right.

The reason Western Australia adopted a different ballot paper was because the design was intended to be used for both upper and lower house elections. The divided lower house ballot paper was used for three by-elections in 1988 but then abandoned before the 1989 state election.

A sample of the divided ballot paper used for the 1988 Ascot by-election is shown below.Read More »WA’s Experiment with Lower House Ticket Voting

How to Vote in the Western Australian Upper House

It is VERY important that voters understand that the rules for voting in the WA upper house, the Legislative Council, are not the same as those used at the last two federal Senate elections.

Ahead of the 2016 Federal election, the rules for Senate voting were changed. Party control over preferences was ended by the abolition of group voting tickets (GVTs), previously used by parties to control preferences. The new system put control over between-party preference entirely in the hands of voters, the same as applies at lower house elections.

But these changes do not apply for WA Legislative Council elections.

This post is a Q&A explaining the differences and giving some hints on how to complete your Legislative Council ballot paper.Read More »How to Vote in the Western Australian Upper House