Wednesday, 28 August 2013

You can vote both below and above the line!

Voting.jpg

If you’re reading this you’re probably aware of the problem: you want to vote below the line for the senate, you really do. But with around 100 candidates to pick from, being able to rank them all up in your preferred order is a tall ask. Especially in the confines and pressure of the polling booth.
Most voters solve the problem by resorting to vote above the line: one “1” and that’s it. However, that simplicity comes at a price: by voting above the line you lose your ability to shape your preference, resorting instead to your party of choice’s [often cunning] preference deals.
There is, however, a better solution. A solution whose only problem is people’s lack of familiarity with. You can vote both below and above the line, and your vote would count!
It works as follows:
  • If you vote both below and above the line, your below the line vote is the one that counts.
  • If, however, your below the line vote is found to have too many errors (some tolerance is allowed), then your above the line vote would count instead.
  • Either way, your vote would count.

Brendan Molloy, Pirate Party Australia senate candidate for NSW and a specialist when it comes to relentlessly asking government authorities questions, verified this by asking the AEC to confirm the above understanding is correct. Following is the reply he received:

Dear Mr Molloy

On the understanding that the following is not to be regarded as legal
advice, the AEC provides the following views on your questions.

Q1 If a person chooses to vote below the line, and fills out all boxes
below the line accurately, but also places a 1 above the line, that the
below line will be counted and the above the line ignored. Is this
understanding correct?

A1 If the registered political party or Senate Group has lodged a group
voting ticket under s 211 of the Act, then the answer will be Yes. If
the person has marked his or her ballot paper above the line in
accordance with s 239(2) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the
Act) but has also marked his or her ballot paper below the line in
accordance with s 239(1) of the Act, then the person’s [sic] ballot paper
shall be deemed not to have been marked in accordance with s 239(2), by
virtue of s 269(2) of the Act. In other words, the person’s below the
line vote will be counted.

Q2 If a voter has filled above the line formally, but has informally
completed below the line, the formal above the line vote will be
counted. Is this correct?

A2 If the registered political party or Senate Group has lodged a group
voting ticket under s 211 of the Act, then the answer will be Yes. If
the person has marked his or her ballot paper in a way that would be
regarded as informal under s 268(1)(b) of the Act, e.g. because it does
not indicate the voter’s first preference for 1 candidate and the order
of his or her preference for all the remaining candidates, but has
marked his or her ballot paper above the line in accordance with s
239(2) of the Act, then s 269(1) of the Act operates to save the
person’s ballot paper. That is to say, the person’s above the line vote
will be counted.

I hope this helps.

So there you go. You have no excuse for laziness anymore!
Vote well.


Image by tbn67, Creative Commons license

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