how-to-votes

SA Election Preference Recommendations

A unique feature of South Australian elections is that registered how-to-vote material for lower house seats is displayed in front of voters in the partitions where votes are completed. I explained how this works in a previous post.

These preference sheets have been released for use in pre-poll voting. Below I summarise the preference recommendations in important seats.

You can find the how-to-votes for each district on the Electoral Commission SA website.

I’ve also published the Legislative Council recommendations. The posters for these are displayed in polling places but not placed inside the voting partition. You can find the Legislative Council tickets on my ABC election site and I hope to publish more on the LC preferences later this week. Some information on how the 2018 preference count unfolded is included in my Legislative Council Preview, again on the ABC site.

The problems for most minor political parties is a lack of volunteers to hand out how-to-vote material outside polling places. This disadvantage is lessened in South Australia by the display of the how-to-vote recommendations.

For instance, Family First for many years issued how-to-votes with preferences to Labor candidates in a small number of seats, mainly those associated with the conservative SDA union. Preferences in these seats were more likely to flow to Labor rather than the Liberal Party. It was a difference in preference flows rarely seen at Federal elections where influencing voters with how-to-vote relies on volunteers handing them to voters.

Family First was absorbed by the Australian Conservatives for the 2018 South Australian election, but continued with the practice of favouring selected Labor candidates with preference recommendations. In 26 seats Conservative preferences were recommended to the Liberal Party and flowed 77% in that direction. The five seats favouring Labor split evenly, only 51.5% to the Liberal Party, and the two seats with split how-to-votes flowed only 67% to the Liberal Party. They are remarkable differences in preference flows compared to flows at Federal elections.

Here’s the preference recommendation summary in key seats.
Read More »SA Election Preference Recommendations

Analysis of Preference Flows at the Upper Hunter By-election

The NSW Upper Hunter by-election on 22 May was notable for the unusually low first preference vote for the two major parties. The Nationals polled 31.2%, Labor 21.2%, with the combined vote for the other 11 candidates an unusually high 47.6%.

The by-election was conducted under NSW’s optional preferential voting rules and 63.4% of other candidate ballot papers exhausted their preferences before reaching one of the final two candidates. At the end of the count, exhausted ballot papers represented 30.2% of the first preference vote.

With ballot paper data from the by-election now published, it is possible to examine more closely the two-party preferred flows of preferences from excluded candidates, to determine how many preferences voters completed, and to measure the influence of how-to-vote recommendations on preference flows.Read More »Analysis of Preference Flows at the Upper Hunter By-election

Preference Flows at the 2018 South Australian Election and the Influence of How-to-Votes

The 2018 South Australian election saw a record vote for minor parties. This was largely due to the campaign by Nick Xenophon and his SA-Best party, polling 14.2% in the House of Assembly, a creditable 18.4% in the 26 seats it contested. The failure of the party to poll as strongly as published polling well out from the election suggested, or to elect a member to the Assembly, saw its campaign labelled a failure by political commentators.

In the end the party was used by voters as a conduit for preferences to the Liberal and Labor Parties. As you would expect for a party viewed by voters as sitting in the political centre, the party’s preferences split evenly, 51.6% to the Liberal Party and 48.4% to labor.

The release of preference flow data by the SA Electoral Commission provides an opportunity to analyse preference flows against party preference recommendations. Several unique features in the conduct of SA House of Assembly elections allows the comparison of preference flows with how-to-votes lodged by candidates and displayed in voting compartments.Read More »Preference Flows at the 2018 South Australian Election and the Influence of How-to-Votes

Should How-To-Votes be Banned at Australian Elections?

Australian is unusual among western democracies in permitting active campaigning outside polling places on election day.

Despite sharing much electoral heritage with Australia, New Zealand sits at the opposite end of the election day campaigning spectrum. Not only are all forms of election day campaigning banned, but all signs erected in the campaign must be removed before election day.

On regulating election day campaigning, most countries sit nearer New Zealand than Australia. Election day is viewed as a time for considered contemplation by voters, not as an opportunity for boisterous last day campaigning.

Australia also has some of the world’s most complex methods for completing ballot papers. Almost all countries use a single cross to vote, some a second cross, and some have a limited form of preferential voting. Some countries, notably the USA, complicate simplicity by holding multiple elections on the same day.

Only Australia requires voters to complete a sequence of numbers for every square on the ballot paper under rules with no allowance for error.

And no other country compels voters to engage with such a complex voting system on pain of being fined.

Thanks to compulsory voting, polling places are the last chance candidates have to engage with undecided and disinterested voters who in other countries probably wouldn’t turn up to vote.

And thanks to full preferential voting, candidates and parties that have attracted a primary vote have enormous interest in ensuring that voters correctly number all other squares to complete a formal vote.Read More »Should How-To-Votes be Banned at Australian Elections?