Thursday, 29 August 2013

A question of preference

In response Crikey Pollbludger Preferential voting discussion

You read way too much into the so called preference deals. Preferences are not a reflection of policy or allegiance. Its a bit like reading a horoscope or Green tea leaves.

Preferences come into their element mainly as a result of the above-the-line ticket voting system. ATL voting is the only way the Greens can direct their preferences.

What is evident is that the minor parties realise where the wealth of vote mining is. All minor parties have preferenced each other locking out the main players Labor, LNP and the Greens. The Greens are no longer seen as a member of the minor party grouping.

Optional Preferential Voting (OPV)

In Victoria Western metro OPV delivered a seat to the Greens. A large number of Family First, DLP and Christian Alliance voters preferenced each pother to make up the minimum five preferences, which was heavily promoted by the Victorian Electoral Commission. What they did not know was that by not continuing on their preferences they inadvertently elected the Greens to the last seat in Western metro ahead of the Labor Party. Had they preferenced Labor’s third candidate Bob smith would have been elected. The Greens were elected by default having slightly more votes then the ALP surplus after preferences.

Segmented distribution

What is of more concern is the method of distribution of preferences from candidates excluded in the count. The method of segmentation, skipping candidates and the dealing from the bottom of the deck.

The issue of segmentation distribution cost the greens a Senate seat in Queensland in 2007
When a candidate is excluded from the count their vote should be distributed as if the excluded candidate had not stood.
If a vote has a preference for a continuing candidate then it should be allocated to that candidate and if need be form part of that candidates surplus before being redistributed to other candidates. IE if I vote for the DLP and then preference Labors number 1 or 2 than my vote should form part of my chosen candidates surplus and distributed accordingly.

This can best be achieved by implementing a reiterative count where the ballot is reset and restarted on every exclusion and only weighted surplus distributed on every iteration. One iteration per excluded candidate until all positions are filled.

In the past under a manual system a reiterative count would have been prohibitive. With the use of computer counting system this is not longer an issue of concern.

Had we had a reiterative counting system in Queensland in 2007 The Greens would have been elected to the Senate in the final position. It needs to be said that a reiterative voting system does not favor any one party over another, It just that in 2007 The Greens lost a seat as a result of the method and order of distribution.

This can be tested by recounting the 2007 QLD Senate excluding all candidates except the last seven standing (3 ALP, 2LNO and 1 Grn)and distributing all votes according to the first available allocated preference.

A reiterative counting system also allows for an adjusted floating quota should optional preferential voting be adopted.

There are other issues in the way Senate preferences are counted such as the non-weighted surplus transfer value the dropping off of remainders etc. that also need to be address

One issue that needs more discussion is the Droop Quota.

Why divide the cake by seven and throw away or lock up a slice when we could divide the cake by six.

As it stands the party that forms the wasted quota has no say in who should represent them. Under a multi member proportional representation system there is not overriding justification that merits the continued practice and use of the Droop quota.

I definitely do not think OPV should be allowed in the above-the-line Group Ticketing system

I can see no reason why Voters should not allowed to preferential vote above the line other than the time and resources required to count the vote.

Our preferential system is the strength of our voting system. It is what puts us ahead of the pack. It avoids the need for a run-off ballot as is the case in various European presidential systems.

Fix it  or scape it.

From my point of view if we can not fix these flaws in the way the system operates and the vote is counted then we might as well adopt a party list system as suggested by William Bowie. But my preference is to fix the system and continue to support preferential voting.

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