22 Feb 2016

Changes to the Senate voting system will ensure there are more informal votes.Complexity is the evil of these proposals.

Image result for voting apples and apples cartoon
If the government’s changes are passed, a leap in the informal voting rate will occur. Research into informal voting by the Australian Electoral Commission notes the relationship between rising rates of informal voting and complexities in a voting system. The system will thus go back to disenfranchising voters (most likely from lower socioeconomic backgrounds) in ways that it did prior to the Hawke government’s 1983 reforms.
There are better ways to mitigate the power of the party secretariats in the preference wheeling-and-dealing process. In Victoria’s upper house, voters can still vote for a group voting ticket or they can give as few as five preferences below the black line.
This doesn’t completely do away with the group voting ticket. But it does try to give voters a viable option to go their own way by reducing the complexity of voting below the line.
Victoria enfranchises voters by simplifying the system. It is a good principle.
It ought to be applied to the federal sphere as well.

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