A fair voting system

Preferential voting

If a candidate in an election does not achieve a majority of first preference votes, the winner is determined by the allocation of subsequent second, third and so on preferences.

How Preferential voting works: 

There are two systems of preferential voting: Full preferential and optional preferential voting.  With full preferential voting, voters are required to indicate their first preference by placing a “1” against a candidate’s name, then make a second preference and so on for the number of candidates on the ballot paper.  Optional preferential voting only requires the voter to make a first preference.

If a candidate does not get an absolute majority of first preference votes, then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and those votes are allocated to the other candidates according to the number of second preference votes.  If no majority has been achieved, the next candidate with the least number of primary votes is eliminated and those votes are allocated to other candidates according to the second preference or third preference and so on if the second preferences have been exhausted.

Supporters of preferential voting say:

  1. The winning candidate is the most preferred or least disliked candidate by the entire electorate.
  2. Voters who support minor parties know that their votes will count towards deciding the winner.
  3. Parties sharing overlapping philosophies and policies can assist each other to win.

 Opponents of preferential voting say:

  1. Vote counting is complex under current manual procedures.
  2. The process is costly and time consuming, potentially delaying a result.
  3. Some people don’t like having to choose more than one candidate.
  4. Preferential voting makes voting more difficult.  Some people do not like having to rank their preference of candidates.  They either neglect to do so or make mistakes, leading to higher levels of informal voting.
  5. Some people do not like being forced to make a preference for candidates they do not support.
  6. A candidate not supported by most of the electorate could still win.

What do you think?  Have your say.  Join the conversation below.


Drawing of Electoral Boundaries

Sometimes people find themselves in a new electorate when voting comes around.  That’s because electoral boundaries - approximately 100,000 people within an area - are sometimes changed to reflect changes in the movement of people and the demographic makeup of the area.  Electoral authorities regularly hold hearings to review boundaries. Political parties are not allowed to participate in the hearings so as to avoid the perception of manipulation of the system in their favour.  Some people do not think electoral boundaries are being decided fairly.

What do you think?  Have your say.  Join the conversation below.


How we vote 

Postal voting

Postal voting is designed for people who cannot attend a polling place in their electorate.  

How voting works:

Once a person has voted, the ballot paper is placed in a sealed envelope which does not contain any voter identification, and then is placed in another sealed envelope that contains the name and address of the voter.  When it is received by the electoral authority the outside envelope is used to confirm the person has voted. The ballot paper is removed from the inside envelope and place in a pile for counting. The system is designed so the identity of the voter cannot be linked to the ballot paper, thus ensuring tick the person’s vote is anonymous.

Opponents of postal voting claim that the system is open to abuse because votes can be tampered with and there is nothing stopping the voter’s personal details being copied. 

What do you think?  Have your say.  Join the conversation below.

Early voting

Early voting is officially known as 'Pre-Poll' voting -- voting before the actual day of the election or poll.  When voting early, voters are required by law to give a valid reason for their request to vote before election day.

How early voting works:

For the 2019 federal election, early-voting or pre-poll voting centres opened in each electorate three weeks before election day in metropolitan areas and two weeks before election day in rural areas. 

According to AEC figures, 2980498 people voted early for the 2016 federal election.  In 2019, 4766853 people voted early -- a 60% increase in early voting compared with the 2016 election. 

Vote Australia recognises that early voting is convenient for those who need it.  Should all voters be allowed to vote before all issues have been fully debated?

What do you think?  Have your say.  Join the conversation below.


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Add your name and let’s keep Australian elections free and fair.

  • (@peterbb69) is following @voteaustralia1 on Twitter 2020-02-05 22:45:22 +1100

  • signed Enquiry into Preferential Voting 2019-05-28 12:33:45 +1000

  • signed One Person, One Vote at Every Election 2019-05-27 17:57:48 +1000
    I totally Agree! Voting in Australia by paper is in my opinion is out dated, it’s time that the Australian Government Electorate is Updated to a Secure Identification Online Voting System.

    I went to vote on 18 May 2019 no ID was asked.

  • signed Enquiry into Preferential Voting 2019-05-25 09:16:51 +1000
    WE need to change the system if we are to have just one vote for one Party, in the UK the DUP received a total of just over 200.000 votes they won 10 seats, and control the government, two other Party’s received almost 4.000.000 votes each they won 1 seat, that’s the same as having a cricket match where 1 team has 11 players and the other team 168 players . in India the PM s Party received 200.000.000 votes said to be a landslide win, yet 700.000.000 did not vote for him, that’s how the one voting system works, the minority always win, and that is why there is so much corruption in politics,