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June 10, 2016


How many parties will be running in the senate only?

Possibly the size of the deposit should be increased significantly, if only to pay for the extra printing.

As I expected, the new Senate voting system, although preferable to the old one, has not succeeded in deterring bogus candidates for the Senate. The only way to do this is much higher deposits. I would suggest $1 million deposit for a Senate group, and $100,000 for an ungrouped candidate. This would be refundable (with interest) if the group or candidate polled 1% of the vote, which is a pretty low bar to clear. Any legitimate party or candidate could easily raise or borrow the money, since lenders would be confident of getting it back, with interest. It would stamp out this pernicious tactic of flooding the ballot with bogus candidates, which is being done to drive up the informal vote and thereby disadvantage Labor.

How on earth is the AEC going to fit the 151 candidates on the NSW Senate ballot paper?

COMMENT: There are more candidates per column but fewer columns on the ballot paper.

Interesting to see the Greens (in three states), the Liberals, ALP & Fred Nile group (NSW) make 12 nominations. Presumably this allows for zero leakage on the preference run-off for those so inclined.

I would have thought there may be more candidates for some of the minor parties, given the Del-Con effect and exhausting of preferences. What is the chance of ALA, FF or Xenophon getting enough votes by the time the preferences run out?

COMMENT: I think the 12 candidates is more about making the column stand out from other columns on the ballot paper.

Will the Senate ballot paper be any larger in some states than was the case at the last Federal election given the increase in candidates' names to be listed?

COMMENT: They will be deeper, with logos above the line and greater numbers of candidates in each column below the line, but they can't be wider because of the 1.04 metre limit imposed by offset printing.

Now that partial OPV in the senate is a reality, I guess it's safe to assume you have already started the draft of your post election analysis ? advocating for the next reform of voting, being OPV in the house and cleaning up party registration and candidate nomination requirements ? You were absolutely correct straight after the last election about senate voting reforms (although I dont think anyone thought it would be an LNP/Greens deal) so keen to see what your idea of what exact unfinished business there is !

COMMENT: I'll mention OPV for the House again but it will get nowhere. I'll push for the return of Senate nominators. And I'll push for an inquiry into the formulas used in distributing Senate preferences. There were issues with this before the new system, but the existence of exhausted preferences make it even more important to look at the issues.

Is this some sort of sick joke? PUP's only lower house candidate is standing in Townsville! How many ex-nickel-refinery workers will vote for Clive's man?

Million dollar deposits, hey? I suppose that's one way to get the money out of politics — vacuum it out of the parties for the length of the campaign!

There is a saner way, thankfully. Signatures. On paper. In quantity. (From residents of that state/territory, naturally).

I suggest the formula go as follows: 20 for each Reps electorate in the state/territory, per candidate. (And minimum 100 regardless).

The signatures-on-paper part is especially important; it requires both organisational ability and manpower.

COMMENT: What you are talking about is bringing back nominators, something that was replaced by central nomination when party registration was introduced in 1984.

I've advocated Senate nominators after the last two elections as part of the package to reform Senate voting. It was the one option that the government's reform package did not adopt but I'll advocate it again after this election.

Independents wanting to nominated for the Senate in each state need 100 people on the electoral roll in that state. Registered parties don't, which is why there are several mainland candidates nominated in Tasmania for the smaller political parties.

If Senate nominators were brought back, it would end micro-parties nominating centrally for every state. They would have to get out on the street in each state and get nominators.

If all party Senate candidates

Now that the ballots have been finalized, are there any indications as to which direction Xenophon Team preferences might go and where the major parties might rank them in their suggestions?

COMMENT: Not yet.

Hi Antony,
Can you clarify why the Australian Equality Party is not included in this list? Or is it simply an error that needs to be fixed? Thanks.

COMMENT: They are there now. Problems with party code clashes when I loaded the official nominations.

Adam Carr: "As I expected, the new Senate voting system, although preferable to the old one, has not succeeded in deterring bogus candidates for the Senate."

The new system was brought in quite late, after the parties had been preparing for this election for almost 3 years. Certainly they knew a change was likely, but they couldn't be certain of what it was until it was legislated. I expect a big drop next time, caused by two factors. The first is that the next election should be a normal one, with a correspondingly higher quota for election. The second factor is that everyone will see the results of the new system. Microparties will have no chance, while minor parties will be in with a chance. The key will be getting suffiicient people to hand out how-to-vote cards at enough booths.

The result is likely to be some merger activity between like minded entities.

COMMENT: Some of the nomination is a final up-yours to the major parties. I do note that several of the clear siphon parties from 2013 have not nominated for the Senate in 2016.

Ballot paper cues will be very important in 2016, like multiple logos on joint tickets, or standing full lists of 12 candidates.

I also expect mergers in the future. I think this will be the last election with multiple Christian parties.

When can we see the layout of the ballot (I need to the NSW one), so that we can carefully plan out our preferences for voting below the line—which is the only way to truly implement the purpose of preferential voting.?

COMMENT: You can print the list of candidates from my NSW Senate page at http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2016/guide/snsw/

They are just vertical rather than in columns.

If you are really keen, there Below the Line will be up soon at https://belowtheline.org.au/

How have the respective ballot draws in the key House of Reps seats worked out for the major parties, greens and Xenophon team , where the 'donkey vote" could be critical? (could not find them on the AEC website at this stage)

COMMENT: I haven't gone through them in any details. The ballot paper lists are available on each electorate page in my election guide.

WA has picked up a lower house seat at the expense of NSW. How common are interstate resdistribution and what is the average or ideal number of electors per seat?

COMMENT: The re-allocation of seats is undertaken under Section 24 of the constitution and is based on population, not enrolment. One year after every federal election the rules of Section 24 are applied and a determination made on how many seats each state should have. More than half of elections since 1984 have been followed by a change in the allocation of seats to states.

Hi Antony, at the 2013 election 30% of people voted early. Will their votes still be counted in the week after election night?

COMMENT: Within district pre-poll votes are counted on the night, which means over half of all early votes are counted on the night.

The answer to the size of the ballot paper is not bigger deposits. There should be a minnows run-off election two weeks before the main election, with the top three or four parties only to be admitted onto the main ballot. If a party is new or it did not receive enough votes in the previous main election, it has to demonstrate in the minnows election that it is worthy of a spot on the main ballot. That is effectively what is done in the USA with their primaries. Ballots could be lodged progressively like pre-poll voting.

COMMENT: I don't think your comparison to US primaries. The solution to the flood of nominations is tweaking the process, either by tightening party registration, lifting deposit fees, and my preferred model of bringing back local nominators for Senate elections. All three could be used in conjunction.

Another approach is what they did in South Australia before the 2014 election by moving away from random draw ballot allocation. Maybe the top 5 parties (number variable) should go first on the ballot followed by random draw for the rest of the ballot.

Ballot paper stacks have been organised to make it harder for voters to find the parties they know from amongst the flood of names on the ballot paper. Fix it by removing that fluke ballot position issue.

In my opinion, allowing too many minor parties does not look healthy for the nation. Their goals are little drops in the big ocean. Their issues can be resolved by public servants.

There should a minimum criteria for minor parties such as 25,000 members at least. What we need is a stronger leadership from a party who has support of many voters. As Adam pointed out, the deposit should be increased.

COMMENT: Their issues can be resolved by public servants? I'll presume your referring to the profusion of minor parties rather than the election of minor parties.

25,000 is way to high. There needs to be better scrutiny of membership, and perhaps a lift in numbers. I would re-introduce local nominators for Senate elections, a requirement that Independent candidates face in each state. Nominators should replace central nomination for Senate elections, as the cause of ballot papers is micro-parties making use of central nomination to put forward candidates in states where they have little or no organisation.

The use of higher membership figures and nomination deposits can be viewed as cartel behaviour by existing parties.

If one looks at the number of candidates in relation to total population for Antony's table one finds that there has been a max of 1 Candidate per 16K Population to a minimum of 1 candidate per 24K people. There are less candidates this election than at any previous election on Anton's table.

Is it such a bad thing that we should have more candidates. Certainly restricting the number of candidates by financial penalty or other criteria is anti democratic.

Stalin, Hitler, Mao had no problem with elections with one candidate. The Americans have a system where to be elected you need to be a millionaire.

COMMENT: Requiring a candidate or party to display a minimal level of organisation or support before getting on the ballot paper is reasonable and exists in most democracies. Our hurdles are quite low, 500 members for a registered party, 200 nominators for an Independent Senate group, $2,000 deposit per candidate refundable if 4% is reached.

I think those can be reviewed and I prefer tests which are based on proof of organisation and support rather than onerous financial hurdles.

Just a question about Senate voting. Why is the AEC still advertising that voters must (for a vote to be accepted) number at least 1 to 6 on the Senate paper and is still informing scrutineers the same?
My understanding is that if a voter simply numbers 1 vote on the Senate paper then his intention is clear and the vote must be accepted. I realise that this effectively negates preferential voting for those who wish to make one vote for 1 candidate only which is not the AEC's preferred option, but isn't this deliberate misinformation by the AEC which will force thousands of people to allocate preferences against their will?
If I am correct, do you foresee any possibility of a challenge in a close result due to this deliberate misinformation by AEC?
My understanding is that the AEC has not as yet corrected this misinformation to scrutineers, despite it's inclusion in the Scrutineers Handbook.

COMMENTED: The Senate electoral amendment bill states that the correct method for filling in the ballot paper above the line is to fill in at least six preferences above the line and that is the instructions written on the ballot paper.

If this provision had been enforced, then the informal vote would have gone through the roof. For the last three decades 95% of voters have completed their Senate ballot papers with a single '1'. For that reason, a savings provision has been included so that if voters do not follow the ballot paper instructions, then if they at least fill in a '1' above the line the vote will be saved from being informal.

The Scrutineers manual states on Page 39 that a vote with a single '1' above the line will remain in the count.

Scrutineers play next to no part in the Senate count. Formality will be determined by data entry of the ballot papers.

There is no chance of a legal change on the basis of the AEC's advertising. In the recent High Court challenge, the justices dismissed any discussion of the just vote '1' option because it was a savings provision, not the definition of a formal vote.

I understand that candidates have to resign from the Australian Public Service when nominating otherwise they would be disqualified for having an office of profit under the crown. Does this does this apply to candidates who are part of the defence reserve or do they have an exemption?

COMMENT: It applies to members of the defence force as well.

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