Full house? (part three)

With another Victorian upper house thread having extended beyond 200 comments, a further update would appear in order. At the time of the last post, Labor’s hopes for an upper house majority appeared to hinge entirely on Southern Metropolitan. Since then, the chances of a DLP win at Labor’s expense in Western Victoria – always possible, but somehow too bizarre to contemplate – have increased considerably. The DLP scored 2.6 per cent of the primary vote in this region, which is subsequently engorged by preferences from the Country Alliance and People Power, putting their candidate Peter Kavanagh fractionally ahead of Family First. Family First preferences in turn get Kavanagh ahead of the Nationals, unlocking enough Coalition preferences to get him ahead of both the Greens and Labor. At this point of the count, the Greens hold the narrowest of leads over Labor (130 votes, according to Antony Green); if they stay ahead, Labor will go out and their preferences will push Kavanagh over a quota. Otherwise, the Greens will go out instead and their preferences will deliver the seat to Labor incumbent Elaine Carbines. Another alternative scenario that might thwart the DLP is if what Antony describes as "a big whack of postals from a seat contested by the Nationals" put them ahead of the DLP at the earlier point of the count.

Southern Metropolitan remains on a knife edge, except that the Greens’ position has firmed in late counting – so it now looks like a contest between Labor (Evan Thornley) and Liberal (David Southwick) for the final place, rather than the three-way contest for the last two places that was in play earlier. According to Antony Green, the ticket votes alone leave Thornley 3844 short of a quota after the addition of preferences from Democrats, People Power and independent Rita Bentley, which the distribution of the Greens surplus should cut to around 2500; while David Southwick is 2934 votes short after receiving preferences from Family First and the DLP. However, there are more below-the-line primary votes for Liberal than Labor (5602 versus 4961), and in particular, there are more for Southwick than Thornley (1683 versus 633). Then there are the 5,275 below-the-line votes for parties other than Labor, Liberal and the Greens. The destination of these preferences look set to decide the issue, bearing in mind that many will exhaust given that voters are required only to number five boxes.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

171 comments on “Full house? (part three)”

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  1. I agree totally Adam.

    PR also reduces dummy candidates, although these can never be eliminated. The WA lg report advocates fpp as a means of reducing dummy candidates. It won’t.

    Under a fpp system the object of a dummy candidate is to split the vote. If you were running in, say Reservoir in northern Melbourne where the ALP normally wins and gets about fifty five per cent and you are an independent you would run a candidate who claims to be Labor, and this may seduce enough voters and your candidate might get in with about forty per cent, which an independent might normally expect to score. With preferential the object of a dummy is to funnel preferences to a preferred candidate. With fpp the object is to draw votes away from a candidate who might otherwise win. Bill Clinton probably owes his election to a conservative Ross Perot who drew votes away from Bush and caused a Clinton victory on a minority vote. Similarly Nader drew votes away from Gore, and certainly was as much a factor in Gore’s loss as the shonky chads in Florida.

    The recent state election saw few obvious dummy candidates, but they were not needed. Family First was effectively a dummy party for the Liberals, and the Greens in most seats served the same purpose for the ALP. Crikey exposed one candidate in Oakleigh in 2002 who had run as an ALP dummy for the Monash Council in 1997 and as a Liberal dummy for the seat of Oakleigh in 2002.

    The WA lg report is the work of political amateurs.

  2. The VEC will soon be commencing representation reviews in local government. One problem they have is their policy that Councils have an odd number of Councillors. This is sensible, but it’s hard to have proper PR if a Council has 7 or 11 members.
    Ideally all multi member wards should return the same number of Councillors, and these should be an odd number. In Wyndham, Glen Eira and Stonnington this is 9, and there are three three Councillor wards. This is sensible and works well.
    In Hume there is a combination of two Councilor and three Councillor wards. This has produced some bizarre results, for example in Sunbury where a majority of votes results in half of the Councillors elected and not a majority of Councillors elected. In Cardinia there is a four Councillor ward, and three single Councillor wards, and this theoretically could mean a group with about 36 per cent of the votes throughout the Shire could control the Council.

    A big problem is the Kennett legislation, and Dick Wynne will hopefully change this. The maximum number of Councillors is now 12, but if this were changed to 15 Councils like Greater Geelong, Greater Ballarat, Greater Bendigo, Greater Dandenong, Darebin, Mornington Peninsula and Boroondara, the bigger Councils, could be elected from five three Councillor wards.

    Single Councillor wards, as well as multi Councillor wards elected by the former majority preferential system, are bad for local government because they do not enable sufficient diversity of Councillors. We have only to look at the former Glen Eira Council, where Liberal Councillors elected by the majority preferential system using multiple dummy candidates were unable to work together for the benefit of the people of Glen Eira. As Adam correctly points out PR has been a very desirable reform for that Council.

    The introduction of pr in local government is opposed by faction bosses in the ALP, who want to win all seats in the Labor heartland. Nicola Roxon, for example, opposed pr in Maribyrnong. In Mornington Peninsula Liberal luminaries like Malcolm Fraser, Alan Hunt and Robin Cooper all opposed pr. Most Councils with pr, whatever their politics, are generally in favour of it.

  3. I find myself in the position of supporting PR in local councils but opposing it in state and federal legislatures, for lower houses anyway. Somebody explain my logic to me.

  4. Just to clarify (from a discussion way up the page) I wasn’t using the fact that NUS used a floating quota to argue in favour of the practice. Indeed in my experience, not confined to electoral system design, if the NUS does something a particular way then that’s at least half a good reason to do it a totally different way, or perhaps even not to do it at all.

    I don’t have a strong view for or against floating quota but I assume the argument in favour of it is that once someone is mathematically assured of being elected they should be treated as such immediately, rather than having their unnecessary further presence in the count interfere with the natural outcome between the remaining candidates. It needs to be handled with caution, given that, for instance, in some versions of Hare-Clark there is the possibility of a very small “gain due to fractions” at certain counts.

  5. It’s rather like the situation in the 1950s when the leading segregationist on the US Supreme Court was Hugo Black, while the leader of the black civil rights organisation the NAACP was Walter White.

  6. VEC electoral funding is given to a party – as reimbursement of proven election expenditure and not as an unconditional gift as the Herald Sun falsely suggested last week – if the total primary votes won by its endorsed candidates exceed 4% of the total vote in that house. So there is no distinction beween ALT and BTL votes.

  7. Although the thread seems to have gone off tangentily, can someone clarify something for me on the CPV/OPV question.

    I’m afraid I’m not clear enough on the maths of it, but my understanding is that if you have OPV but with a requirement to preference at least as many candidates as there are spots, you’ll ensure that all positions are filled by a quota. Is that true?

    I gather that’s why the Victorian election required me to vote BTL for AT LEAST 5 candidates. I am working on the assumption that is why the five figure was selected, rather than some arbitrary number.

    If this is true, then that to me seems the ideal compromise. In general I’m a supporter of compulsory attendance and optional preferential. But with multi-member it would seem we are each effectively voting for all of the available positions, so it would not be unreasonable to ask an elector to form an opinion on at least that many candidates.

  8. The Glen Eira Council was not sacked because of Grossbard and Erlich having a brawl within the chambers and it certain wasn’t about property issues. Nor is Erlich a Liberal.

    The Council was sacked in accordance to the Whelan Report for dysfuntional management with the infighting between all councillors over the past 8 or so years. Plus they were sacked for misuse of their expenses such as their mobile bill.

    One councillor, Peter Goudge misused his mobile and use it during his 2002 Oakleigh Election Campaign as the Liberal candidate.

    The Council was not Liberal dominated: 4 out of the 9 were members of the Liberal Party (Grossbard, Marwick, Hyams and Goudge), one was ALP (Sapir) and the rest were independents (Martens, Erlich, Esakoff and Bury [NB Bury is a former Liberal Party member, but was independent at the time of the sacking]).

    3 of the 9 councillors were fresh blood to Glen Eira (Hyams, Bury and Esakoff). The Whelan Report revealed that these 3 did not contribute a lot to the sacking of the Glen Eira (except for one time when it was the mayoralty vote between Bury and Hyams).

    But overall, the Bracks Government Local Democratic Reform Act has improved the Local Government Act and Local Governance for the long haul. PR is the best thing to have happened since bread and butter. It’s democratic and brings in a great amount of good governance to any city council. Glen Eira currently has one Liberal (Feldman), one ALP (Staikos) and the rest are independents and all councillors in that council are doing a great job and so far no infighting at all since most of the ex-councillors are no longer on the Glen Eira Council

  9. The Electoral Act says at s.211:
    (3) A payment under this section must not be made in
    respect of votes given in an election for a
    candidate unless the total number of first
    preference votes given for the candidate is at least
    4% of the total number of first preference votes
    given in the election.

    So it seems to require 4% vote for each candidate.

    On the contrary, for the return of deposits at Council elections it says:

    (f) was not declared elected but was a member
    of a group of candidates at a Council election
    and the combined first preference votes
    received by all the candidates in the group
    was at least 4% of the total number of first
    preference votes in the election.

    It seems there is nothing in the Act to give funding or reimbursement of deposits to group tickets in State elections. Which means a party really needs to recommend BTL voters to give a primary to their lead candidate before exercising an opinion.

  10. From the Electoral Act202 s211:
    “(2) The sum of $1.20 is payable for each first preference vote given for a
    candidate in an election.
    “(3) A payment under this section must not be made in respect of votes given in
    an election for a candidate unless the total number of first preference votes
    given for the candidate is at least 4% of the total number of
    first preference votes given in the election.”
    So there is a difference between ATL & BTL’s insofar as payment is not made on the whole ticket but only on the person getting more than 4% – ie; the no.1 on the ticket and the ATL votes combined, but not extending to any 1st preferences given to candidates further down the ticket. There doesn’t appear to be an extended definition of “first preference vote” in the Act so this would remain the reading of it (ie; it doesn’t say “for the purposes of entitlement under s211 all votes in a registered party’s ticket shall be deemed to be first preference votes.” or similar). Unless of course I’ve missed it somewhere (I can’t find it in the Regulations either).

  11. I found this recently:

    “An odd feature in an STV election”. I. D. Hill

    A few years ago, there were 23 candidates in an election
    for 15 seats, and there were 539 votes. The candidates’
    names have here been coded as A, B, C, etc.
    One voter gave preferences, in order, as: M D L R I
    J C T B E H A O U F etc. Using Newland and Britton
    (second edition) rules [1], the last candidate elected was
    F and the runner-up was V. Amazingly, if that one voter
    had put V instead of F as 15th preference, V would have
    been elected and F runner-up. In other words, the election
    result depended upon that one voter’s 15th preference.

    Any chance of a repeat?

  12. On the matter of fixed versus floating quota: One of my jobs is as a returning officer for student elections. Most of the elections we run use the floating quota method. However, we have on a couple of occassions run elections for universities that use fixed quota. However, for their NUS ballot they have to use the floating quota under NUS rules.

    The idea that floating quota takes longer to count is simply wrong. For two years in a row we started the count at one campus for student council (fixed quota) and NUS (floating quota) at the same time, with two teams of roughly equal experience working on each. Both counts had similar numbers of candidates and places to elect.

    Each time I was on the NUS team and we finished up to an hour before the fixed quota team. Whatever the arguements for the merits of the two systems, speed is not one.

  13. Annother thing that would help improve the democraticness of councils is decreasing the say of non-residential votes in elections (I understand that the levels of non-residens vary between councils).

    A Melbourne wide council might be a good idea.

  14. Update from South Metro if anyone is interested:
    * Preferences will be distributed tomorrow night at 5pm.
    * Scrutineer reports suggest that Thornley will beat Southwick by about 1,000 votes.
    * But it ain’t over til it’s over.

  15. It is possible the former Acts Interpretation Act (or Interpretation of Laws Act) might be used by the VEC to justify paying money on the basis of groups rather than individual candidates. The singular also means the plural unless the Act obviously refers to the singular. I’m not an expert on the interpretation of laws, and my argument could be wrong, but it may need to be tested in court.

  16. Greetings all,

    If you are here, clearly you have a strong interest in politics. In which case, I present to you Terra Politicus (www.mockparliament.com)

    This is an online simulation of the Australian Parliament with mock parties and MPs who develop policy and run for office, with government, opposition, crossbenches and debate occuring through the media and the Parliament. I strongly encourage you to visit the website and take a look.


  17. Peter,

    With OPV applied to PR of a multi member region of five candidates, if two of your nominated five candidates are eliminated early in the count, then your vote has only contributed to the election of three candidates before it exhausts. Your vote will have no say in the election of the other two.

    If you prefer to vote for minor candidates and don’t understand the implications of not extending your preferences beyond the minimum required for formality, there is a good chance that the majority (if not all) of your vote will be wasted.

    Fortunately in this election OPV only applies to BTL votes so the impact of this is minimised. But in the close contests that we see here an “inderminate” result could not only determine who gets elected in each of two reqions but also who holds the BoP.

    The proposal put forward by Antony will inevitably see large numbers of votes exhaust, exasserbating the problem for a large number of voters who vote ATL.

    The problem people are trying to overcome is the nasty consequences of GVTs. OPV is only the answer if everyone is educated to understand that they need to complete the ballot paper to order all their real preferences, rather than the minimum required to lodge a formal vote.

  18. Not ‘inevitably’. If a party is limited in the number of parties it can distribute preferences to, it will direct those preferences to parties that (a) are more likely to be in the final cut up of preferences and (b) the party is more likely to find itself in reasonable ideological agreement with. That’s why your attempt to simulate OPV ticket voting by simply looking at the current tickets misses the point. If the rules were different the tickets would be different.

    Under the current system, parties are always tempted to put small parties unlikely to be elected ahead of parties they would prefer to see elected. And that gambling on preferences by major parties is how Family First and potentially the DLP get elected, by strange chains of preference harvesting followed by picking up the preferences of all the major parties whose guestimate of the minor party vote has turned out to be wrong and a potential flow of preferences has reversed.

    Elections shouldn’t be about such gambles. If you limited the number of parties that preferences could be directed to, would a major party waste one of its limited number of preferences on a minor party in this way if it meant it lost the ability ot elect a like minded party. Would the Labor Party gamble away its preferences on a couple of minor players if at the end of its group preference ticket it found itself denied the opportunity of choosing between the Greens and the Liberals.

    There is concern at preference harvesting being used by minor parties to get elected from tiny proportions of the vote. Apart from my proposal which makes life tough for the parties, the other possible solutions put forward are:
    (A) Abolish GTV with full preferences below the line, just not on.
    (B) Abolish GTV with full preferences above the line, increase in informal voting unkown
    (E) Abolish GTV with optional preferential voting, but currently everyone just gags at the thought of Optional Preferential Voting so it won’t happen
    (D) Introduce a threshold quota and retain GTV, which would actually make major parties put even more minor parties high on their ticket
    (E) Huge increase in deposits or large deposits for tickets votes to cut the number of parties, as per the $10,000 introduced in NSW, along with a significant fee to maintain a registered party.

    The NSW system has just simply done away with ticket voting and produced a fairer system than the old ticket system, as the only parties that can now be elected are those that attract votes. Getting elected on a preference deal is now impossible in NSW, but it does elect 21 MLCs so the quota is much lower and the proportionality can be maintained. With only six to be elected at a Senate election, the NSW system might require some tweaking to overcome too many votes exhausting.

    The players who are terrified of optional preferential voting are the major parties. The Coalition is terrified of a One Nation style party exhausting preferences rather than choose between Labor and Coalition. The Labor Party is terrified of the Greens doing the same thing.

  19. Anthony’s latter point is correct. OPV is always bad for Labor, because it gives the Greens the power to blackmail us by threatening to withhold their preferences unless we promise to abolish electricity or whatever. This doesn’t seem to matter much at state level, but it would be absolutely fatal at federal level, where elections are fought on a higher ideological level. Whatever genius thought of allowing OPV in Victoria ought to be sentenced to lentils for life.

  20. The major parties might consider abolishing GTV with full preferences ATL – it gets rid of not very popular candidates getting elected on strange preference deals unless people actually vote that way, doesn’t allow minor party votes to simply exhaust, and has the compulsory preferential system applying in the lower house. Maybe the most likely compromise.

  21. Adam, a few Federal Liberals have noticed this, but the National Party are just terrified of OPV thanks to their Queensland experience. But if the Queensland Nationals keep issuing how-tovote cards at state election with no preferences, they only have themselves to blame if voters keep voting that way.

  22. Another howler from Ray:

    [i] if two of your nominated five candidates are eliminated early in the count, then your vote has only contributed to the election of three candidates before it exhausts. Your vote will have no say in the election of the other two.[/i]

    It is next to impossible for your vote to contribute to the election of all 5 candidates you preference. Your vote will always be counted for a single candidate only unless that candidate is over quota, in which case a portion of your vote will flow to your next preference. It is not the case that by selecting 5 candidates your vote registers support for all five of them.

    If in SMET you had voted:
    1 Pennucuik
    2 Davis
    3 Coote
    4 Lenders
    5 Mayne
    then your vote would help to elect Pennicuik and would have no other impact because it would never leave the Pennicuik pile unless she exceeds quota, but by that time all the others have been eliminated or elected. Even if the voter had filled out the BTL completely, her vote would still count in the election of Pennicuik alone and have no input at all on the election of the other four members. Your criticism of OPV is misplaced.

  23. The Queensland 2001 election is very instructive for OPV: from memory, Labor won Burdekin on about 36% of the primary vote as the remaining votes were split between Nats, City-country alliance (former One Nation), One Nation (from memory) and maybe an independent or two. A zillion votes exhausted. Labor in Qld benefits handsomely from OPV.

  24. They didn’t in 1995 though Sacha. And in the case of Burdekin, those three parties were just tearing at each others throats all through the campaign. Rule number one of optional preferential voting, it punishes political division.

  25. Adam I agree my analysis shows that Thornley will cross the line with a thousand votes ahead of Southwick. The number of exhausted will not erode that lead. An exaughsted vote is the same as a split ticket.

    I am still of the view that a five provoice 9 or 7 member electorates would have been the best outcome. I would not support any artificial quota and fully support preferential voting. As previously stated a reiterative count would be desirable provided it has a value of the vote based surplus formula(Not one based on the number of ballot papers) and a single transaction per candidate. Having undertaken extensive research on this subject and having been instrumental in the formation of the UH reform policy I naturally have a keen interest in the outcome of this election. Years I agree there are problems with above the line voting. But that is not proportional Representation. I advocate the right to preference above the line. The fact is that many people do not know about the Green Party. If the DLP manage to stay out in front then so be it that its our preferential voting system. Much better then the alternative party list system or the two round voting option we see in many Eastern European and Latin American countries.

    Do not throw the baby out with the bath water. And do not try to design a system that delivers a particular outcome. Keep the principles true and honest. A value based surplus is a MUST. Single transactions per candidate can then follow. All else is refinement. NO artificial quotas unless it excludes the Greens 🙂

    I will update my count sheets for those interested. http://melbcity.topcities.com

  26. MelbCity, I presume you are across the fact the WA government is modifying the surplus calculation to adopt the weighted inclusive gregory method, to weight the votes by the value they arrive at a candidate, not the system used for the Senate, VEC etc where a vote can increase in value.

    As far as I understand, they will continue to used a FIFO system, where votes are distributed in individual bundles. But the important point is that no vote will ever be able to increase in value when distributed.

    Once one state does this and gets the software written to carry it out, I suspect the rest will slowly fall into line.

  27. Antony said: MelbCity, I presume you are across the fact the WA government is modifying the surplus calculation to adopt the weighted inclusive gregory method. As far as I understand, they will continue to used a FIFO system. Once one state does this and gets the software written to carry it out, I suspect the rest will slowly fall into line.

    How often is FIFO used? I noticed only the other day that the Senate cuts up in order of TV, but Vic LC cuts up in order of TV (after primaries). I hadn’t noticed this before, my simulations used the Senate method. It only took the changing of a “>” to a “

  28. What happened to the rest of my post? (“who moved my cheese”?)

    [don’t put angle brackets in your text]

    Anyway, the point was that fifo or lifo for SMET produces the same result, but the difference could matter sometimes.

  29. WA and SA are the only states to now retain FIFO, where each count covers a small bundle of votes corresponding to an original source of primary votes. Those two states, like the old Hare-Clark system, would enage in hundreds and even thousands of counts to fill all the vacancies. However, both states use the inclusive gregory method, not the ‘last bundle’ method, to determine surplus.

    Tasmania has now followed the ACT method of accumulating votes by transfer value, and undertaking distributions in order of decreasing transfer value. NSW of course still uses random sampling and will continue to do so until someone finally puts up a referendum to remove this archaic method from the Constitution.

  30. NSW’s random sampling method shows the silliness of entrenching technical counting details in a constitution – I don’t know whether the SA requirement of producing “fair” boundaries is also entrenched, but it’s pretty silly if only because it’s impossible to draw up boundaries to produce the desired effect before people cast their votes.

  31. Oh yes, South Australia held a referendum to entrench that clause. The reason I remember is a very important historical footnote, Premier Bannon held a press conference the next day to announce that the State Bank of SA was rapidly disappearing down a financial plug hole.

  32. I remember reading about the referendum in a newspaper and thought that it sounded like quite a good thing, especially given what happened in the previous SA election. No doubt a lot of people also thought that it sounded like a good thing.

  33. Re cut-up order: (My use of angled brackets for emphasis completely garbled the fist post above.)

    The message was
    Senate cut-up is in DECREASING TV order;
    VICLC cut-up is in INCREASING TV order

    But the results are the same in SMET, which, on the late afternoon figures today, show 1,200 surplus for ALP, using the various BTL flows reported here last week.

    How long will the count take tomorrow night? In the NSW 1999 LC election (10 times bigger all round), we waited 11 hours as the numbers ticked away and 268 candidates were slowly cut-up (time taken is some form of power law function of N).

  34. Adam,

    abolish electricity. Don’t tell me your into the spreading lies about Greens too? we have enough of that from Labor and the Bretheren.

  35. Geoff, that’s not right. The surplus goes out from the highest to the lowest, as in the Senate.

    One problem Labor has is that once the Democrat ticket elects the Green, the Green surplus won’t be distributed until the rest of the Democrat BTL votes are distributed. I don’t think these will be enough to elect the Liberal, but it is one of those peculiarities of the count that complicates analysis.

  36. Hi. I have updated my count sheet to Include Monday December 11 data for Southern Metropolitan.


    With Over 90% of the enrolled vote counted and Evan Thornley with a notional 0.35% advantage I would be highly surprised if the result changed again. The level of the lead in Labors notional value should see it survive any unexpected downturn due to the number of exaughsted votes. I know many here have written pipe dreams but unless they can provide statistical data and numbers to back up any theories I suggest they do more work on their expected outcomes and publish the data to back up any theories.

    It looks like there was an undocumented/unpublished correction in the data with David Southwick going backwards in actual numbers of votes and the Alp/Greens moving forward. Again no published information on the VEC web site to explain where in the count and reason behind any change.


    Anyone who has any doubt about the efficiency and lack of public accountability, openness and transparency in the VEC’s conduct of the count should seriously open their eyes and think again.

    There is much more that can and should be done to improve on the VEC’s public reporting of progress in the counting process. Polling booth data and information on the number of postal and absentee votes issued should have been readily available by now.

    Surplus value calculation.

    I was not aware of the changes in WA and will look into it. Do you have a copy of the formula they intend to use? or links to the relevant documents? The change required is simple really, each vote is given a value and it is the value of the vote that is proportioned out when calculating a candidates surplus. If you adopt a value based surplus formula you can get away with a single transfer- one transaction per candidate. A reiterative count would be desirable to accommodate optional preferential voting. If segmentation is required (I agurge it is not) then it must be a full FIFO segmentation.

    Whilst this does not have a significant impact with above-the-line ticket voting in elections such as local government elections in Victoria where above-the-line voting does not exist the impact is considerable and can add hundreds of votes effecting the final results.

    It is my intention to make a submission to the Parliament in the new year advocating further review of the electoral process and the VEC and its lack of accountability, lack openness and transparency. In view of the documented indication that the VEC had in fact accessed and counted e-voting data before the close of the poll is of serious concern and raises question of doubt of the suitability of electronic voting systems in tits current form and administration. MUICH more needs to be done to ensure open and transparency of the electronic voting before public trust can be given. With the accessibility of the Internet much more needs to be done to improve the VEC’s reporting and accountability.

    Again with the lack of information provided by the VEC candidates, scrutineers and the public are left in the dark within the VEC changing data on the fly. I have been scrutinising public elections for over 30 years and This would have to be one of the worst managed election counts I have seen in r3ecent times. In the past it was an excuse of inability to keep people properly informed. With the Internet this excuse no longer exists. Further We have always been able to obtain statistical data on the number of votes issued prior to the count and in case of apostles prior to polling day. Why this information has not been forthcoming is unacceptable.

  37. I don’t think I have enough time to begin to address the BS issues raised by Londoner who advocates going back to the days of fist past the post voting. One of the most undemocratic voting systems in the world (Next to the USA which uses the same system) even with its faults in the system and the VEC’s lack of accountability I am still of the view that the reforms put in Place for Victoria’s Upper House are worthwhile and a huge step in the right direction, there is never the less room for improvement. the original proposal of a five region nine members per electorate is still worthy of consideration.

  38. MelbCity, you’ve got the wrong segmentation on your South Metro distribution. The rest of the Democrat preferences will be distributed before the Green surplus. Couldn’t resist saying that considering how much you’ve gone on about segmentation

  39. Antony Green referred earlier to the use of random sampling in the distribution of surpluses. The actual ballot papers transferred as part of a surplus were once determined at random for the Senate, and as Antony pointed out this is still the case in NSW.

    This reference reminded me of two memorable posters of the Melbourne evening newspaper, the Herald. One is not relevant here, but I’ll mention it anyway as it may amuse some readers. The second is very relevant. The first was in November 1956 at the opening of the Melbourne Olympic Games. The poster read GAY CROWD AT OPENING OF GAMES. The second was in late 1964, when the poster read SENATE COUNT IS A RANDOM FARCE. I won’t mention the first again, except to refer to an article about a decade ago in the Jevhovahs Witnesses publication Awake which referred to keeping abreast of changes in the meaning of words. The second is worthy of some comment.

    Random sampling was used in Senate surplus transfers from 1949 until 1983. They almost certainly never changed the result. In 1964 Frank McManus of the DLP was leading in the election for the fifth position, but lacked a quota. At a late stage in the count Communist preferences of Ralph Gibson were going to be decisive. These went to the ALP candidate Cyril Sudholz. After the distribution of Communist preferences Sudholz was just over 500 votes ahead of the Liberal candidate George Hannan. ALP preferences went to Hannan, who bizarrely was even more anti-Communist than McManus. If Sudholz was to achieve less votes at that stage of the count than Hannan his preferences would elect the right wing Liberal. Communist preferences, however, ensured the election of McManus by putting the Labor man on top, and Hannan’s preferences elected McManus.

    The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Victoria decided to hold a recount of votes after McManus had been declared the winner. The DLP challenged this in the High Court, acting as a Court of Disputed Returns. The High Court rejected the DLPs action, in which the DLP had argued that a recount would mean a new random sampling, which in fact took place. This was the reason for the Melbourne Herald poster and also banner headline.

    The recount resulted in an almost identical result. Obviously the Liberal Party was supporting the recount, as was the ALP. The ALP ensured that it had numerous scrutineers throughout the recount, and their task was to ensure that as many ALP votes as possible were thrown out, such was the ill feeling at the time against the DLP.

    Random sampling does affect the result in some NSW local government elections, as I think Antony Green correctly once pointed out, rare as these are. I think one case was in Canada Bay, but the number of voters was quite small. In Senate polls the distribution of the surplus was not done completely at random. The second effective preferences of a candidate with a quota were all counted, and by calculating a transfer value the number of ballot papers for each effective second preference to be transferred determined and the actual ballot papers to be transferred was decided at random. The likelihood of the random selection changing the result was very remote, although it could have happened if in the McManus case the margin between Hannan and Sudholz was around 10-20 rather than just over 500.

    I disagree with random distribution of surpluses, like Antony, but I don’t feel they make much difference unless there are few voters, like in some of the very small country shires in NSW, or in the case of the Senate where the margins between two or more candidates who might affect the result is miniscule.

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