Sunday, 22 March 2015

Preferences - Yours to give!

Confused about preferences?  With the help of Michael Ord from The Blue Mountains Greens we hope this blog post will end all confusion and enable you to use your preferences with power!

NSW ‘Lower House’ Voting & Preferences

An Introduction to Elections
  • The NSW state parliament consists of two houses:
Upper house the Legislative Council
Lower house the Legislative Assembly
  • general election calls for the end of term of all members of the lower house and half the members of the upper house.
  • The lower house ballot paper (the small buff-coloured one), has the names of the candidates contesting the seat (usually 5-10), with their party affiliation adjacent.
  • In NSW state lower house elections, the voting system used is called ‘optional preferential’. This means you are required to number a minimum of just one box — but you may number as many additional boxes, or all, as you see fit. To maximise your democracy, The Greens recommend you preference as many candidates with whom you feel reasonably comfortable.

Important Facts
  • Political parties do not decide how preferences flow!Only voters choose and distribute preferences!
  • How-to-vote cards are merely a ‘recommendation’ by political parties as to how you might distribute your preferences when filling out your ballot paper. It's entirely up to you  the voter!

How Lower House Preferences Are Counted
  •  All formal ballot papers are sorted into piles according to their 1st preference (or primary vote). 
  • Each pile is then counted. If one candidate attains an ‘absolute majority — i.e., 50% + 1 vote of the formal primary votes — then that candidate is declared elected. If not, then preferences are distributed. Your preferences! The preferences you chose!
  • The candidate who has the least number of primary votes is ‘excluded’. NB: It is the candidate who is excluded, not the voters’ ballot papers. Each ballot paper for that excluded candidate is then distributed according to each voter’s 2nd preference; i.e., all those voters’ ballot papers are then moved — at full value — and added to the pile of each voter’s 2nd choice.
  • After this first distribution of preferences, the remaining piles of ballot papers are again counted.  The procedure of excluding the candidate with the least votes, and distributing those preferences, continues until one of the candidates attains a majority of the votes.

Other Information Worth Knowing...
  •  In voting for a smaller party, there is no such thing as a ‘wasted vote’: it is a complete and utter fallacy! Even if your 1st-preferenced smaller-party candidate is excluded at some point in the count, and provided you number all (or most) of the boxes, your ballot paper continues  at full value  still participating in determining which party forms government
The determination and distribution of preferences is always the voters’!    

© 2014. Compiled by Michael Ord (assisted by Geoff Ash) on behalf of Blue Mountains Greens. Authorised and printed by Michael Ord, 337 Macquarie Road, Springwood. 2777. Ver. 1.95A

So what's our recommendation for Coffs Harbour?

In the lower house - the Legislative Assembly, we recommend you vote 1 The Greens and then order the other candidates per your own preferences.

So as an example, if you have often voted Nationals, but are unhappy with their stance on CSG or some other issue and you want to send them a message, then you might vote 1 Craig Christie then 2 Andrew Fraser.  In this way you send the Nationals a message but the vote will move to The Nationals as counting continues.  Your vote then has double the value as it sends a message as well as a vote.  if you dislike a party then you may wish to put them last.  We recommend you number all the boxes but it is your choice how many boxes you number and in which order.

In the Upper House - the Legislative Council

We have a number of MPs in the Legislative Council and hope to increase the number in this election.  The Legislative Council is the place where new legislation is checked and a strong vote for The Greens in the Upper House ensures we can hold the major parties accountable to their election promises and to safe guard our farmland and environment from CSG and other issues.  It helps to protect public education and public assets.

If you prefer not to pick up a paper "How to Vote" on the day, this link will give you everything you need to see the voting paper on your smart phone
How to vote The Greens Coffs Harbour

About Craig Christie for Coffs Harbour 2015

About Greens pillars, policies and MPs

Further information:

Still not sure?  Here's the NSW Electoral Commission explanation

Thanks to Michael Ord for his work in simplifying what can be a complex issue for us all.