Proportional Representation Society of Australia
The ‘How-to-vote’ Cards in Australia’s elections with transferable voting
Introduction: The first jurisdiction in Australia to legislate for all of the seats in at least one of its Houses to be elected by a modern transferable voting system was Tasmania, when Tasmania's Electoral Act 1907 extended, to the whole State, the use of the Hare-Clark system of PR-STV (proportional representation with the single transferable vote) in multi-member electoral districts that had been used, since 1896, just for the election of the members of the House of Assembly for Hobart and Launceston. That Act also substituted transferable voting for the first-past-the-post voting that had, until then, been used for Legislative Council elections.
Tasmanians have long valued the real choice that Hare-Clark gives, and that seems to have prevented 'How-to-Vote' cards from gaining the foothold they have on the mainland, which accepted them when preferential voting spread there around 1919 to prevent the two conservative parties - the urban Nationalist Party and the rural Country Party - splitting the conservative vote, particularly in the State-wide electoral districts used for Senate elections.
Except in A.C.T. and Tasmanian State
supporters of a range of voters
and candidates energetically ply
voters with 'How-to-vote' cards
as they enter polling booths at
most Australian elections to
encourage voters to diligently
follow their recommendations by
copying the recommended voting
order onto their ballot-papers.
Many voters mistakenly think that
the law requires them to
scrupulously follow the order on
the card if their vote is to be
valid, whereas others just decide
that they need go no further than
follow that order, which saves
them from further effort.
use of the law for parties'
electoral convenience readily
tempts a large majority of voters
to simply vote according to the
party's ticket. The
Constructive initiative by the Greens Party: At the 2010 Federal election, the Australian Greens followed the practice established earlier by the Australian Democrats of respecting below-the-line voters by giving equal weighting on its how-to-vote cards to the recommendation of numbering all squares there.
recently, all the parties
- possibly to their disadvantage
- discourage below-the-line
and herd them into just
following a party line. The
Greens once did better, by their
initiative of adding a brief
explanation of How Preferences Work,
as clicking on their 2010
card to enlarge
it shows. Sadly, the Greens
failed to explain that on their
cards in later years. See 2016
cards for Liberals,
Voting Tickets: From
1983 until they were discontinued
in March 2016, a Group
Voting Ticket option
appeared on Senate ballot papers
to further tempt voters to follow
their party's recommendations, and
that device still persists for two
Cards' at various other polls:
cards preceded the use of
single transferable vote
in Australia, as a Labour
Party card issued for
the election of ten
representatives to the
1897 Australian Federal
Constitution Convention shows.
The 1984 Liberal card (first year with the now discontinued Group Voting Tickets) set out the below-the-line equivalent of an above-the-line Liberal Senate vote, and explained that “Your 1 Liberal vote means that you have voted as below”, with the below-the-line equivalent overwritten with the message, “No need to mark this section”.
The 2001 Liberal card omitted that first statement, but still set out the below-the-line equivalent of an above-the-line Liberal Senate vote, and still overwrote it with the message, “No need to complete this part”. Labor and the Democrats named their top 3 and 4 Senate candidates respectively, but only the Democrats were even-handed in advising voters whether they should vote above-the-line or below-the-line.
By 2010, neither the explanation nor the below-the-line equivalent remained, but there was still the message, ‘No need to complete the “below-the-line” section.
At the 2010 poll, the Labor card used a similar message to the Liberals. It stated “No need to fill in this part”. By 2013, part of that had moved off the edge. The Greens' message was to vote above-the-line, or vote below-the-line by numbering every box in order of your preference. They named their No. 1 Senate candidate.
the 2016 poll, by which time
the optional preferential voting
for individual candidates that was
available in 1934 had been
restored, and Group
Voting Tickets had
fortunately been discontinued, the
Liberals had become the only large
party that still gave the
gratuitous advice on their
how-to-vote cards that there was,
"no need to number the boxes
below the thick black line".
|2016||Liberal||Labor||Greens||Xenophon Team||Voluntary Euthanasia Party||2016 Goldstein
* Note that, for Tasmania's House of Assembly polls below, the documents shown are not the normal How-to-Vote Cards handed out at polling booths in other Australian public elections, as Hare-Clark has given such free choice since its first State-wide use in 1909 that issuing cards did not become the practice. Since then, Robson Rotation has made such cards ineffective, and State legislation has outlawed their distribution on polling day within 100 metres of a polling place, so the documents shown below are brochures distributed before polling day.
Each of the two larger parties' candidates recommends a first preference vote for him or herself, with next preferences to his or her colleagues, but they are silent about later preferences. The Greens party often recommends a single order, as its vote has so far been too low to elect two or more candidates. Unlike larger parties, it might worry over its voters placing its preferred first preference too low on the ballot.
House of Assembly
||2010 SA Legislative Council|
House of Assembly
House of Assembly