Canberra

Obstacles in the way of Independents at the ACT Election

Australian jurisdictions that elect upper houses by proportional representation, and allow the grouping of candidates on the ballot paper, have a two step process for nomination.

First a candidate nominates. Then candidates can lodge a separate form requesting they be grouped on the ballot paper. Candidate that don’t lodge a grouping request will be placed in the ‘Ungrouped’ column on the far right of the ballot paper.

When requesting grouping, candidates also specify the order in which their names will be listed in the column. Where the candidates are from a registered party or parties, their party name or names will be printed at the top of the column.

The rules are different for Tasmania and the ACT, the two jurisdictions that use variants of the Hare-Clark electoral system. Request for grouping are allowed, but parties and candidates cannot determine the order names are listed. Hare-Clark ballot papers randomise the order of candidate names printed in each column.

In Tasmania there are differences in the grouping rules for party candidates versus independent candidates. Parties simply request their candidates, or even a single candidate, be listed in one column. An Independent or Independents can make the same request, but as explained in this post, they must supply more nominator names.

In contrast the ACT does not allow grouped Independents. Independents will be placed in the Ungrouped column unless the Independents go through the process of registering a party name. For slightly different reasons, David Pocock registered a party called David Pocock to contest the 2022 Senate election, making it easier for voters to identify him on the ballot paper.

This rule on Independents will be a major impediment for the talk of Independents contesting the ACT election in October. Unless they register some sort of party name to nominate under, ACT Independents will be placed in the Ungrouped column.

The first blog post I ever published was in 2008 and concerned changes to the ACT Electoral Act restricting ballot paper columns to registered parties.

That old blog is no longer publicly available. With Tasmanian and ACT elections looming, and talk of high profile Independents contesting both, I thought it worth resurrecting the old post. In short, Tasmania provides a mechanism allowing Independents access to a column on the ballot paper, but the ACT does not.

The unaltered post below was first published on 28 March 2008.Read More »Obstacles in the way of Independents at the ACT Election