Thursday, November 20, 2014

Warped Voting systems

One vote one value, that should be the primary aim of our voting systems.
I love voting systems, especially the systems designed to reflect real voter preference; like the majority of the wide variety of Australian models across the federal and state administrations. We have straight single member preferential voting and variations of multi-member proportional representation.

On the face of it, they all provide the real choice of the voters to one extent or another, or would if they weren’t tinkered with constantly in attempts to favour the major parties.  Each time they try to control outcomes the systems simply become more warped.

Look at the sample ballot (below) for the Victorian Legislative Council (Upper House). Because of the generally large number of candidates vying to fill these multi-member electorates Victorian politician have actually managed to provide three different methods of voting, most devaluing the intention of the base method:

·         Number all the boxes, (exhaustive preferential) in the example that is 1 to 38 in your order of preference. This is the most pure method, as long as the voter can garner enough information of the large number of candidate to make an informed choice.
·         Just vote one box above the line. Dinky this one, so simple to allow your vote to be skewed in ways you never intended. The parties and candidate make all your choices for you, to suit their own agendas.
·         Limited preferential, number a minimum of five of the boxes; meaning preferences are exhausted at the number the voter chooses to stop at after their mandatory five. It also stops preferences accidentally leaking to candidates the voter doesn’t want to support.

Personally I see the Victorian system as a unrepresentative pig’s breakfast. Far fairer would be to dump the ‘above the line’ and impose a minimum (in these 5 member electorates) of numbering ten boxes. Surely finding information on ten preferred candidates is not too onerous and ensures a reasonable preferences option before the vote is exhausted. But then the simpler system doesn’t benefit the big parties so we can forget that one.

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