How to make your Senate vote count

IN ANY double dissolution election, a smaller percentage of first preferences is required to gain the last Senate position - and this will be exacerbated under the new Senate voting system. Nick Economou shows here how few votes are needed in each state to elect senators in this election.

Under the new rules, group voting tickets have been abolished, so political parties will not be able to allocate the preferences of those who simply voted 1 above the line. Now it is up to the voter to allocate preferences. If you're keen, you can practise filling out a Senate form with the new rules online.

If you want to vote above the line for one of the parties or groups, you should number at least six boxes in the order of your choice. Or, to vote below the line, you should indicate at least 12 preferences.

But it's worth stressing that you can number as many additional boxes as you choose when voting either above the line (that is, more than six boxes) or below the line (more than 12).

Those who vote for micro parties may see their preferences exhaust if all the parties they have supported are eliminated. Savings provisions will allow votes to be counted if even only one box above the line is checked, increasing the number of exhausted votes further. These votes will not count - so the last Senate candidate elected in each state could have received 4% or less of first preference votes.

And that's why Queensland's Senate race is being so closely watched nationally. As ABC election analyst Antony Green and others have noted, Hanson won more than 4% in her 2004 individual tilt at the Senate - even without the extra name recognition she will get this time with her party's name above the line on the ballot paper.

Bronwyn Stevens is a lecturer in politics at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.


This article first appeared in The Conversation,

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