This is an example of an OPTIONAL PREFERENTIAL system in use in some places (i.e. NSW Lower House elections)
The candidates are represented by letters.
If a voter was to preference Candidate A then B and then C, this would be entered as:
In the default 'voter table' below, Candidate C is the favourite (with 7 first preference votes in the initial count) but lets see what happens...
Consider sharing this page on Facebook or Twitter if it helped you! You will be surprised at just how many voters don't actually know how this system works. If you have any questions or queries, please reach out to me on Twitter (@slopezAU).
Q: Who determines preferences? Candidates and parties?[Show/Hide Answer]
A: You do! The term: "preference deal" has really confused voters. "Preference deals" between parties are just agreements between two candidates/parties to put each other on their HTVs (How To Votes).
Q: Do I need to use a How To Vote to Vote correctly?[Show/Hide Answer]
A: No. You should refuse HTVs as they are usually determined by 'preference deals'. HTVs are not really "how do I vote?" but more of a "vote as I tell you!". Everyone will have a different idea on what is important to them and while determining which candidates best represent your views may be a little hard work, you will be more empowered and make your vote really count in doing so. As the above shows, preferential voting is extremely important and sometimes they can change the outcome of an election quite dramatically... why would you give that power to people who are doing these deals in the shadow? You can vote simply by reading the simple instructions on the ballot. You can also ask the Electoral Commission staff for assistance.
Q: What if my candidate loses anyway? What was the point of it all?[Show/Hide Answer]
A: Even if your preferred candidate loses, your vote still was and continues to be important. Your first preference is a sign to other candidates/parties that win that what your preferred candidate/party had to say or what they represented was important enough to earn your vote above all others. If this preferred candidate reaches a certain % they may also be encouraged to run again and may even qualify for electoral funding that would have otherwise gone to a major party.
Q: What happens to my vote if I don't do it correctly or purposely do it wrong?[Show/Hide Answer]
A: This is considered an informal vote. It is discarded and excluded from the total count, lowering the quota. You change absolutely nothing in doing this, in fact, some parties will actively encourage you to 'waste your vote' if you intend not to vote for them because that lowers the quota for a win. One less person they need to win over. You're not a hero for voting like this. None of the candidates nor the parties will ever see it. That big, hairy schlong you just drew? A scrutineer (person who counts the votes) saw it and thought to themselves "yet another dickhead" and no one else will give it a second thought. You want change? Make your vote count.
Q: What is the difference between optional and mandatory preferential voting?[Show/Hide Answer]
A: Optional is when you can choose to number one or many boxes. Mandatory is when you are required to number at least a certain number of boxes, sometimes 3 or more or even all of them. Different states/territories have different voting requirements depending on the level (Local or State) and these could even differ from the Federal voting system as well. Ensure you read the ballot to understand what is required to make your vote formal as not following those instructions may lead to an informal vote. For example: In NSW Lower House elections, we use the Optional Preferential voting system. You can number just one, or two boxes or all of them if you wanted to. If you do not number all the boxes though, your vote can *exhaust* (will not count any further), so it is always ideal to number all the boxes if you are permitted to do so.