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Election How-To #5

How do I fill out the ballot papers? : 2010 Re-Run
[AU-centric]

If you are an Australian citizen and will be voting on Saturday, this post is the really important one. It even has pictures! Accidentally stuffing up your ballot paper means that you’ll have no say in the election, so if you have any questions at all, please do ask and I’m sure that either myself or one of my election-savvy readers will be able to find you an answer.

What follows is an extract from the Australian Electoral Commission website:


House of Representatives ballot papers

?The order of the candidates on the ballot paper is determined by a random draw conducted in the office of the Divisional Returning Officer immediately after the declaration of nominations. House of Representative ballot papers are green in colour.

How to complete the ballot paper

To vote for a Member of the House of Representatives, a voter is required to write the number ‘1’ in the box next to the candidate who is their first choice, and the numbers ‘2’, ‘3’ and so on against all the other candidates until all the boxes have been numbered, in order of the voter’s preference.

Ballot papers must be marked according to the rules for voting so that they do not create informal votes. Ballot papers cannot be counted if they are informal.

Polling officials at the polling place are available to assist you in completing your ballot paper. Remember, if you make a mistake on a ballot paper you may return it to the polling official who issued it to you and receive a fresh one.

 

Formal votes

To make a formal vote on a House of Representatives ballot paper, a voter must number every box with a series of consecutive numbers according to their preference. A voter must:

  • write the number 1 in the box beside the candidate who is their first choice,
  • write the number 2 in the box beside the candidate who is their second choice,
  • write the number 3 in the box beside the candidate who is their third choice, and so on until they have numbered every box.

Informal votes

An informal ballot paper is one that has been incorrectly completed or not filled in at all. Informal votes are not counted towards any candidate but are set aside.

A House of Representatives ballot paper is informal if:

  • it is blank or unmarked,
  • ticks or crosses have been used,
  • it has writing on it which identifies the voter,
  • a number is repeated,
  • the voter’s intention is not clear, or
  • it has not received the official mark of the presiding officer and is not considered authentic.

Note: If a House of Representatives ballot paper has all squares numbered but one then it is assumed that the unmarked square constitutes the last preference and the ballot paper will be deemed formal.


Senate ballot papers

?The order of the candidates on the ballot paper is determined by a random draw conducted in the office of the Australian Electoral Officer for that State or Territory, following the public declaration of nominations. Senate ballot papers are white in colour.

How to complete the ballot paper

The ballot paper is divided into two sections. Voters have a choice of two methods when voting for Senators:

Above the line

 

A voter may vote for a political party or group by putting the number ‘1’ in one box only above the black line. The rest of the ballot paper will be left blank.

By casting a vote this way, voters are allowing the order of their preference to be determined by the party or group they are voting for.

Group Voting Ticket

A Senate group may lodge a written statement setting out a preference order of all candidates in the election. This is referred to as a group voting ticket. Instead of a voter numbering all of the boxes ‘below the line’, the AEC will automatically allocate preferences in the predetermined order outlined by the particular party or group.

Ungrouped candidates do not lodge a group voting ticket and so do not have a box above the line on the Senate ballot paper.

A group voting ticket looks similar to a completed Senate ballot paper. A booklet with all the group voting tickets for the voter’s particular state can be viewed at a local polling place. The group voting ticket clearly shows the order in which the party or group will allocate a voter’s preferences, or votes. Each party or group can register up to three group voting tickets.

Below the line

 

A voter can choose to fill in every box below the line in the order of their preference by putting the number ‘1’ in the box of the candidate they want as their first choice, number ‘2’ in the box of the candidate they want as their second choice, and so on until all the boxes have been numbered. The top part of the ballot paper will be left blank.

If a voter chooses to vote below the line, they must number every box below the line for their vote to count.

Informal votes

An informal ballot paper is one that has been incorrectly completed or not filled in at all. Informal votes are not counted towards any candidate but are set aside.

A Senate ballot paper is informal if:

  • it is unmarked,
  • it has not received the official mark of the presiding officer and is not considered authentic,
  • it has writing on it which identifies the voter, or
  • the voter’s intention is not clear.

A vote above the line will be informal if:

  • it has no first preference mark, or
  • there is more than one first preference mark.

A vote below the line is informal if:

  • it has no first preference mark,
  • a tick or cross has been used as a first preference mark,
  • there is more than one first preference mark,
  • there are 10 or more candidates and 90% or more of the squares opposite the names of candidates are not numbered as required or more than three numbers would need to be changed for a correct numeric sequencing to occur.
    • This means, for example that where there are twenty candidates, a ballot paper would be informal if it did not have on it either the numbers 1 to 18 (90% of 20) without repetitions or omissions, or numbers which, if up to three of them were changed, would be the numbers 1 to 18 without repetitions or omissions, or
  • there are less than 10 candidates and not all of the squares next to the candidate’s names, or all but one of those squares (which is left blank), form a sequence of consecutive numbers beginning with the number 1, or no more than two numbers would need to be changed for a correct numbering sequence to occur.
    • This means, for example that where there are nine candidates, a ballot paper would be informal if it did not have on it either the numbers from 1 to at least 8 without repetitions or omissions, or numbers which, if up to two of them were changed, would be the numbers from 1 to at least 8 without repetitions or omissions.

Note: The numbers on a ballot paper are never actually changed to ensure formality. In addition, a formal vote will only be counted until the point at which the voter’s intention becomes unclear, for instance to the point of the numbering sequence where it is no longer sequential.


Below the line?

There’s been an impressive push over the last few months to help educate people about voting below the line and having their say regarding the Senate, rather than voting above the line and allowing their vote to be directed by the Group Voting Tickets.  If you’re considering voting below the line for the first time (or indeed if you are a seasoned below the line veteran), you might want to check out some of these tools:

http://belowtheline.cc/ allows you to choose groups on the ballot and then re-arrange them and print an example of a ballot paper that you can take along as a voting guide.

https://www.belowtheline.org.au/ takes the parties’ registered tickets and allows you to re-arrange them, and again, gives you a sample ballot to take along.

http://filter-conroy.org/ alows Victorians to choose the party they would have voted for above the line and generates an example ballot paper which is identical to that party’s Group Voting Ticket, except that Stephen Conroy is numbered last.  If you’re Victorian and don’t know why you might want to do this, check out the Wikipedia article on internet censorship in Australia.

Category: politics

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@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.