How to vote and preferences

“Where do your preferences go?” Is a very common question I’ve been getting. 
With the ACT Hare Clark voting system preferences are solely up to YOU the voter. Hare Clark allows you to vote for as many candidates as you like, in fact the more numbers you put on the ballot paper the better for minor parties and independents. As long as you leave the major parties last, because as soon as your vote goes to a major party candidate it is unlikely to leave there and it will remain with that major party.


Michael Moore ex MLA and CityNews columnist explains how to maximise you vote below…

CITYNEWS: One advantage of the Hare-Clark electoral system is that it puts the power squarely in the hands of the voter. In this column I explain how to use it most effectively and why. The single most important message is to avoid putting any number against someone you do not wish to elect. You might not like the person or you might disagree with the individual’s policy and approach. Perhaps the candidate is an elected member who, in your opinion, has done very little. 
Another possibility is that the candidate has behaved badly. You have the power to choose one candidate or more from one party or more and leave the others unmarked. There is nothing wrong with just picking the best people for the job, even if your numbering of candidates runs right across independent and party lines. 

The most effective way to cast a vote is to follow the Electoral Commission instruction on the ballot paper. It reads: “Remember, number at least five boxes from 1-5 in the order of your choice”. Numbering further than 1-5 increases your chances of ensuring your vote is not “exhausted”. “Exhausted” means that your vote does not support any candidate to get elected.

Preferential voting is the Australian standard and gives you flexibility with your vote. It allows you to put a number 1 or 2 or more against candidates who have little chance of being elected and then go on to support others who you believe are much more likely to be elected. This is an effective way to send a message to those with whom you are not happy. You, the voter, have the power to advantage a candidate who deserves support. Similarly, where a candidate is left unmarked by you and others, that person drops back, making them less likely to be elected.

It is not necessary to stick to one party. The power of voting under Hare-Clark is that you can place a number 1 against an independent, numbers 2 and 3 against minor parties, number 4 against a favoured candidate in one of the major parties and number 5 against a favoured candidate in the other party. The reason for doing this sort of voting is simply to get the best person for the job.

As an illustration, it makes sense for someone who is financially conservative but socially liberal to vote for a candidate they know personally in the Progressives column, followed by a Greens candidate before moving to support a right faction candidate in the Labor column and then on to the Liberal Party to vote for a candidate who is a “small L Liberal” rather than a conservative.

You exercise more power by supporting better candidates and refusing support to others who have not performed well, or are unlikely to perform well. Current members of the Assembly may be punished or rewarded for their performance – irrespective of party loyalty.

Your first vote may have been assigned to a little known candidate and originally be in the smallest pile of papers for the count. Your vote is not wasted. This pile of ballot papers is picked up by the counting staff and placed on other piles in accordance with the specific numbering of each ballot paper. The counting staff then move to the next smallest pile, which is distributed in the same way. This process continues until your ballot paper lands on someone who gets enough votes to be elected.

You have the power. Use it!


Here’s my take on how to maximise your vote:

1. If you don’t like a candidate DON’T give them a number
2. You can spread your votes across multiple parties
3. The more numbers the better for minor parties and independents
4. Put the major parties last or no number at all
5. If you want to punish an existing major party mere DON’T give them a number
6. If you give a major party your number one vote, you vote is unlikely to leave that party