Victorian election: upper house preference tickets

Group voting tickets have been unveiled in Victoria, one of the two jurisdictions that persists with them.

The group voting tickets for the Victorian election are available for viewing here. There is as always a lot to parse here, and Antony Green’s calculators will be needed to make better sense of it all. A few immediate take-outs:

• Glenn Druery’s fingerprints are everywhere to be seen, with tightly interlocking preferences from a vast array of micro-parties who leave the ballot papers looking more like those for the Senate than what prevailed pre-2014. Even Fiona Patten’s Reason Party appears to have reached accommodations with a number of micro-parties, despite her police complaint against Druery.

• The Greens have not done at all well: the Druery network parties have them last or near to last, as usual; Labor has them behind a number of left and, in places, not-so-left concerns (Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, Shooters Fishers and Farmers and the Liberal Democrats); Animal Justice favours left-wing micro-parties over them.

• The Coalition has tended to give priority to the more competitive of the right-of-centre micro parties, and has Labor ahead of (in this order) the Greens, Victorian Socialists and the Australian Liberty Alliance.

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.

68 comments on “Victorian election: upper house preference tickets”

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  1. The Greens have clearly made deals with Derryn Hinch, the Aussie Battlers, Hudson 4 NV, the LDP (!) and the Shooters (omg) in order to save their members in East Metro and West Metro.

    ETA: West Metro not North

  2. Seriously, this needs to end. I almost hope some complete clowns get elected a la Fed Senate 2013, just so they’re forced to pass legislation to stop it.

    At least voting below the line is easy… Surely people can write 5 numbers at least. I wrote about 15 before stopping, I’d much rather my vote exhausted early than help elect some nutcase hard-right minor.

  3. @Tom the first and the best

    (Continuing from previous thread) absolutely – at the Carrum pre-poll centre, besides Lab/Lib/Green there were volunteers for the DLP and Taxi Transport. A lot of people seemed to be taking their flyers too and engaging in a chat. Makes a big difference over other minors. It was pretty busy, a lot of retirees getting it done early, but also looked like quite a tradies dropping in between jobs etc.

  4. I suspect that the ALP`s decision to preference the Shooters ahead of the Greens (in 3 regions: Western Victoria, Western Metro and Southern Metro) is driven by getting preferences in Morwell (where the Shooters are Running Ricky Muir).

  5. LDP might do alright in the regions in which they much further to the left of the ballot that the Liberals as people get confused. So this may affect Eastern Metro for example.

  6. We have seen where the smart dealmakers in the ALP have got themselves before – hope this time the voters save them from themselves

  7. @WanderWest

    Hinch has preferenced:

    • The lead Greens candidate ahead of all ALP candidates and the third Liberal candidate in Eastern Metro;
    • The lead Greens candidate ahead of the second ALP and Liberal candidates in Western Metro; and
    • The third Liberal candidate in Southern Metro

    In the cases above the ALP and Liberal candidates higher in the Hinch GVTs will almost certainly be elected on full quotas before preferences are distributed. Hinch has the Greens behind the ALP, Liberals and Reason in all other regions (and last in four of these).

    The Greens have preferenced:

    • Hinch candidates above ALP, Liberal and Reason in Northern Metro and Northern Victoria;
    • Hinch candidates above ALP and Liberal in Western Victoria; and
    • Hinch candidates above the Liberals in all other regions

    If you want the rest can provide.

  8. The DLP will do quite well in Northern Metro and Western Metro because they are now on the ballot papers as Labour-DLP and they are left of the ALP on the ballot paper in those regions. The will thus pick up quite a few intending ALP voters.

    Labour-DLP also are directly after the Liberals on the Liberal ticket, directly after Hudson for NV on the Hudson for NV ticket, and do reasonably well on several others in Northern Metro. I suspect that the race for the 5th seat in Northern Metro will be between Labour-DLP, Reason and the ALP.

    Labour-DLP are also directly after the Liberals, Australian Country Party and Health Australia Party on their respective tickets and do well on several other. The DLP are in a good position to take the 5th Western Metro seat for the second time.

  9. @3z, if a vote hits an already-elected candidate, does it just pass through (as you seem to imply) or does it get reduced in value with the other votes who have already passed through getting scaled up (as best practice would have it). (The reason being: you shouldn’t get an advantage from lying and saying your first preference is George Unelectable, and then letting your vote pass through candidates you believe are popular but important, before finally settling on a lower priority candidate at full value — while honest votes get scattered at reduced value.)

    I thought the second rule is the rule used in the Senate, and I would have thought it’s what’s used in Victoria. (Mind you, Bracks did show him self singularly inept with his legislative council reforms when he gratuitously adopted group voting tickets despite their risks already being clear. So perhaps I am naïve in assuming they could write a best-practice pseudo-STV election act.)

    In that case, going Hinch 1-5: 1-5, Lib-1: 6, Green-1: 7 is actually not a huge advantage to the Greens.

  10. @Felix

    I don’t know if they are distributed at a reduced transfer value if they pass through an elected candidate. Doesn’t seem to be in the Act.

    But some votes is still better than no votes. I’m sure the Greens would not have agreed to deal that is to their disadvantage.

    I think the prize for Hinch is in North Metro, the only region we can be pretty sure at least some Greens votes will be distributed.

  11. If a candidate has already been elected and their surplus distributed, then they are passed over just like a candidate eliminated due to not having enough votes. Doing anything else would be extremely complicated and the value of preferences from the candidates original surplus would increase, potentially electing candidates who were eliminated after receiving preferences from the surplus.

  12. Interesting that the ALP appears not to be particularly motivated to end group tickets.

    From an uninformed distance, I have a couple of theories.
    1) The back room deal makers over-estimate how clever they can be with preference deals.
    2) The ALP don’t mind that much having the BOP in the upper-house fragmented amongst micro-parties and prefer the “many-paths” option over the greens having too big a block.
    Maybe a mixture of both.

  13. I’m gonna have to urge everyone I know who votes Labor not to just put a 1 above the line in Western Victoria. Seriously, we don’t need more of those Shooters & Fishers nutjobs in parliament. What were they thinking?

  14. we need to do away with above the line voting. people should only have to vote their first 10-15 preferred candidates below the line, but have the option of numbering all or more. if people are too apathetic to do this, give them a ‘I can’t be stuffed’ box to tick and let them choose to waste their vote. Above the line voting allowing voters to distribute preferences should be allowed and promoted too. I have never voted above the line because labor and the greens rarely preference votes the way I wan them to.

    But then again, I also think all ballots should have five to ten questions where voters are tested on their understanding of the electoral system, and their votes get multiplied by their score. Apparently this is elitist.

    it is privilege to be able to vote, but so many fuckwits do just to avoid a fine, and these ‘swinging’ voters can decide who wins. Looking at other nations I am all for compulsory voting (and also voluntary voting for those 16-18 and over 70) and preferential voting, but I want a better informed/more aware electorate. if you have ever handed out how to vote cards you’ll understand where I am coming from – it is terrifying to see some of the people who are unsure about who to vote for even as they enter the voting booth.

  15. GhostWhoVotes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    39m39 minutes ago

    #Galaxy Poll VIC State Seat of Mordialloc Primary Votes: ALP 41 (+2.3 since election) LIB 42 (-1.8) GRN 7 (-0.9) #vicvotes #auspol
    0 replies 1 retweet 2 likes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    40m40 minutes ago

    #Galaxy Poll VIC State Seat of Mordialloc 2 Party Preferred: ALP 52 (-0.1 since election) LIB 48 (+0.1) #vicvotes #auspol
    1 reply 1 retweet 4 likes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    41m41 minutes ago

    #Galaxy Poll VIC State Seat of Frankston Primary Votes: ALP 42 (+7.0 since election) LIB 43 (+7.2) GRN 6 (-2.0) #vicvotes #auspol
    1 reply 3 retweets 3 likes
    ‏ @GhostWhoVotes
    41m41 minutes ago

    #Galaxy Poll VIC State Seat of Frankston 2 Party Preferred: ALP 51 (+0.5 since election) LIB 49 (-0.5) #vicvotes #auspol

  16. Those seem consistent with a slight swing to Labor.

    Wonder how the 2PP was done? Previous election wouldn’t be helpful for Frankston, since Geoff Shaw got 13% as an independent last time (his absence is why the primaries for both major parties are so much higher).

  17. @sustainable

    What you described is already the case. Below the line is optional preferential – you only have to number 5 to count. Beyond that is optional.

    However, I suspect many people don’t know that.

  18. @sustainable future,

    I agree that we should modify or abandon ATL voting. Since ATL was introduced due to obscene Senate validity requirements, and the LC BTL validity was never so absurd, there was never any need to introduce it. Modifications like the Senate reforms or a system of divisible votes (so that only BTL votes affect which candidate of a group is elected; ATL votes merely increase the chances that someone from this group be elected) are the minimum in case we choose to retain the silly system.

    As for the notion that some people should be given reduced voting weight because they haven’t memorised every detail of a ridiculously complex voting system, this is anti-democratic. Democracy needs everyone to be able to express the notion that the elite are fucking things up for them.

    Democracy is great because it is an iterative process (which is why three year terms are better than four year terms, and two years terms are better than five year terms, and more politicians are better than fewer politicians). The noise people make actually does something. To silence that noise will simply result in what you see in America — multigenerational entrenched poor and rich people where almost every change results in the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

    Democracy does not and cannot work on the basis of a single election. Democracy is not admired because it picks out the best policy. Democracy is admired because it prevents bad policy from continuing in a safe way.

    Democracy is a stress relief for the regime. It achieves its reforms when (a) there are enough politicians per person that lots of people can seriously enter the legislature and (b) there have been enough elections that people have filtered out the shit and stuck with something that actually works and (c) the people who are getting rooted get to vote. It is effectively an evolutionary process.

    This is why it is critical to support short election cycles, increase in the size of legislature in line with population increases, and oppose any voting rights restrictions. Anything else is not a sustainable future.

  19. @Expat, damage is actively done to the election process by having GVT, since these have strong effects which are not clearly consistent with the will of the voters. A vote for Labor should not elect someone who is hostile to working people, and a vote for the Greens should not elect someone who opposes environmental reforms.

    Likewise it needs to be up to the e.g. DLP voter whether their vote continues to an anti-abortion/anti-worker candidate, or if it continues to a pro-choice/pro-worker candidate, in the absence of any other pro-worker anti-abortion parties.

    At the moment, the way ATL votes work is deliberately hidden from view.

  20. paywalled

    Labor is clinging to a narrow lead in marginal seats Frankston and Mordialloc
    Matt Johnston AND Monique Hore, Herald Sun
    November 12, 2018 8:22pm

    Labor is clinging to a narrow lead over the Liberals in two marginal state seats in Melbourne’s critical sandbelt as the parties prepare for a fiery final fortnight of campaigning.

    A Herald Sun / YouGov Galaxy poll of more than 500 voters in Mordialloc and Frankston shows law and order is a major concern. Only 28 per cent of those polled said the government was doing enough to tackle crime.

    The poll, conducted at the weekend, shows both major parties have primary votes in the low 40s in both electorates.

    Table here of the polling, free to open this image paywalled

    Greens candidate Angus McAlpine rapped about date rape, drug dealing as ‘FatGut’
    November 12, 2018 7:00pm

    A foul-mouthed Greens candidate vying for state parliament was the lead vocalist in an offensive rap crew whose lyrics reference date rape, domestic violence and drug dealing.

    Greens candidate for Footscray Angus McAlpine fronted Broken Aesthetiks, whose songs regularly reference “b****es” and include a number of homophobic slurs.

    One particularly vile track features the lyrics: “date rape drugs in her drink then have my way”.

    Another boasts: “got no class when trying to get some a**, put a rowie (rohypnol) in your glass and wait for a few minutes to pass”.

    The Greens on Monday night stood by Mr McAlpine, who said the “disrespectful” lyrics were written for “shock value” when he was young.

    He was 21 years old when Broken Aesthetiks’ album was released.

  21. Any idea if that’s “more than 500 voters in Mordialloc and more than 500 voters in Frankston”, or “a combined total of more than 500 voters for two polls in Mordialloc and Frankston”? I guess it just means “it’s anyone’s game”. It’s a funny thing to do, to do that poll, when we already thought it’s anyone’s game. The polls failed to answer any useful question. Or was the Hun just hoping to get a tough on crime stick to beat Andrews with?

  22. Apparently Kennett has written an article in the Australian today suggesting there’s going to be an upset. He’d have access to internal polling so I’m starting to feel a bit uneasy. Really wish another public poll was released.

  23. 3z:

    The Greens have clearly made deals with Derryn Hinch, the Aussie Battlers, Hudson 4 NV, the LDP (!) and the Shooters (omg) in order to save their members in East Metro and West Metro.

    ETA: West Metro not North

    I don’t think Labor’s in any position to be taking the moral high ground where group voting tickets are concerned.

  24. I have no problem with allowing above the line voting, provided voters are able to distribute their own preferences above the line. A lot of people just don’t have particularly strong views about individual candidates, particularly state upper house candidates, who tend to be a very forgettable bunch.

    Group voting tickets are a disgrace, however, and I’ll never be able to wrap my head around why Labor still supports them. I could perhaps understand it from a cynical strategy perspective if Labor got some sort of noticeable advantage from retaining the damn things, but all available suggests it’s the opposite – the only people who win are that far-right climate denier Glenn Druery and his 600-odd front parties, few of which are friends to Labor or the centre-left.

    I think the system we currently have for the federal Senate is excellent. It’s one of the few laudable achievements of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government.

  25. Via Nick Casmirri, these seem to be the ones most likely to get a seat from bugger-all primary, due to Druery’s mess. I feel very bad about this.

    East Metro – Rod Barton of the Transport Matters Party
    East Vic – Vern Hughes of the Aussie Battler Party
    North Metro – Multiple strong minors, but Carmel Dagiandis of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
    North Vic – Tim Quilty of the Liberal Democrats
    South East Metro – Ali Khan of the Transport Matters Party
    South Metro – Clifford Hayes of Sustainable Australia
    West Metro – Stuart O’Nell of the Aussie Battler Party
    West Vic – Stuart Grimley of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

    They would all, without exception, be terrible for the state. Some, such as Vern Hughes, extremely so. Antony Green’s calculator suggests that Rod Barton from the taxi drivers could get in with a primary as low as 0.3% – and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, they have plenty of volunteers on the ground handing out flyers.

  26. I hate that each election there’s a beat up over preferences. It’s quite a cruel twist of the system that people who dislike the other parties so much they are motivated to actually run in the election have to then rank the other candidates. If they liked any of them they wouldn’t need to run.

  27. SFF and links to domestic gun lobby a la America’s NRA:

    Australia’s gun lobby is pouring money into a US-style state election campaign aimed at weakening Victoria’s firearms laws, according to anti-violence campaigners.

    Gun Control Australia says the Shooting Industry Firearms Association (SIFA) is using tactics developed by the National Rifle Association to get pro-gun politicians into Victoria’s parliament to work against the state’s weapons control laws.

    The association insists the campaign it is funding, called ‘Not Happy Dan’, asking voters to preference the Labor Party last, is simply a response to community concerns identified in its research. A spokeswoman initially said the campaign would cost $200,000 and later said the budget was $165,000.

    The group is also contributing to the election campaign of the Shooters and Fishers Party, which failed this year to relax restrictions on silencers through the state parliament.

  28. @expat;
    “Antony Green’s calculator suggests that Rod Barton from the taxi drivers could get in with a primary as low as 0.3%”
    I can only see a lower house calculator, link ?

  29. To put SFF, a party that wants to relax gun laws, before the Greens, says it all about who Labor will get in bed with to keep power.
    True. Lucky that it’s only necessary to number 5 squares below the line in the LC so that it’s possible to cast a valid vote without giving the ALP any preferences.

  30. Voting only to 5 is the worst thing you can do if you want to deny someone your support. Your much better numbering all the boxes and putting them last.

    Not giving a party a number effectively means your rankign them equal with all other un-numbered parties.

  31. The last number in a full preferential vote is always useless (except for meeting some compulsory preferencing formality requirements) because the preferences are never distributed once all the positions are filled and because of the Hare Quota, there is always at least one candidate defeated. Additionally, in an Australia multi member system with ATL/GTV votes, preferences for some major candidates are are only useful if they are for the party or its themselves because they will be elected before any other groups` candidates can distribute preferences.

    So leaving one party`s squares blank will help defeat that party (although it would help more in a fix quota system, although there aren`t any of those in Australia) but leaving other parties` squares blank will help the party you want to defeat.

  32. As others have pointed out, if you number only to 5 below the line and your vote is exhausted you effectively increase the power of all non exhausted votes .

    Looking at all these group tickets the Greens are in trouble. They may win a few seats in the Lower House but be wiped out in the Upper House, and if Labor has a Lower House majority then the Greens will be in a less powerful position than they are now .

    It is interesting that it took so long for someone (Druery) to work out how to game this system. Basically by getting all the minors to put Labor Coalition and Greens pretty much last.

    I hope this is the last election under this system. The preferences above the line is an elegant easily understandable and fair way of doing it.

  33. I haven’t looked in detail at the political background behind the lack of action on getting rid of Group Ticket Voting in Victoria. I know that Victoria’s JSCEM-equivalent recommended a wait and see approach in its review of the 2014 election (because reform at that time had not been tested at the federal election). However, after the federal election result showed that concerns about the Senate reforms had been overwhelmingly groundless, Victoria still had over two years to make changes ahead of this election.

    Everyone in Victoria should vote below the line and number as many boxes as they can. Even voting 1-5 and stopping is better than giving your vote to a preference harvester, but the more squares you number below the line the more powerful your vote will be. Put any micro-parties you’ve never heard of near the bottom especially if they have cool-sounding names. Numbering more boxes can never harm your more preferred candidates.

    Friends don’t let friends vote above the line.

  34. Tom the first and best:

    The last number in a full preferential vote is always useless (except for meeting some compulsory preferencing formality requirements) because the preferences are never distributed once all the positions are filled and because of the Hare Quota, there is always at least one candidate defeated.

    There is an exception to this in Tasmania. In the Tasmanian system there is an advantage to numbering every box over numbering every box but one. That is that by doing so, if the person you have put last resigns or dies during their term, you may be able to get your vote into their countback and contribute to electing their successor. However if you leave the last box blank, this cannot happen.

    Victoria doesn’t use countbacks so this issue doesn’t apply there.

  35. How does a preference that cannot have elected a candidate end up in the countback, if countbacks are restricted to vote that elected a candidate (as I believed they were until a couple of minute ago)?

  36. Everyone in Victoria should vote below the line and number as many boxes as they can. Even voting 1-5 and stopping is better than giving your vote to a preference harvester, but the more squares you number below the line the more powerful your vote will be. Put any micro-parties you’ve never heard of near the bottom especially if they have cool-sounding names. Numbering more boxes can never harm your more preferred candidates.
    Thanks for the wise words KB. I’ll figure out the optimum strategy accordingly, with the aim that my vote for the Greens in the LC is not directly instrumental in electing a coalition candidate, while withholding preferences to the ALP. In some respects I don’t mind Andrews’ government, but given the contempt shown by ALP and coalition supporters for fellow citizens who choose to vote Green, as exemplified by the PB forums, I am not going to reward either of those parties with preferences.

  37. Listening to an insider’s account (from one of the non-majors) – the fighting and arguing within their own organisation, then the “discussions” and payments with others and certain outsiders – it must all come perilously close to contravening the Electoral Act as regards paying to preference/vote. I think there may end up being at least one “micro” in each of the eight regions. We will do well to get rid of this system once and for all during the next term – all it will take is Labor and the Coalition agreeing.

  38. Antony

    Thank you – these are priceless!

    I even go back and use old ones, plugging in the actual percentages, and then tweaking them a bit to see what might have happened.

    As I have said before – the ONLY good thing about these “1” voting tickets is that it makes your calculators work brilliantly!

  39. The Greens best chance in Western Metro seem to be if the DLP overtake the Liberals (who preference the DLP directly after themselves) and win, which gives a favourable outcome for the Greens compared to the Liberal Democrats winning.

    Now the DLP are on the ballot paper as Labour DLP, that might happen.

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