Victorian elections 2014

Entering the final week before the Victorian State elections, it’s certainly been a journey as I stand as a candidate for the Upper House (in Victoria called the Legislative Council). For anyone standing as an Independent, the electoral system is stacked against such: never mind that an Independent is likely to have less resources than a political party – I accept this. What makes the voting pattern less favourable to independents is something entirely different…

Voting process for Upper House

Let me briefly outline the voting options for the Upper House for those unfamiliar with Victorian (and Australian) electoral processes. Firstly, voting participation is compulsory for adult citizens (unless precluded or options allowed by law – such as for certain sentences, mental capability, or age).

In Victoria, the Upper House may often have over 40 candidates per region, out of which five will be elected. Unlike at the Federal level (which has an full preferential system – requiring that ALL candidates have a sequential vote placed against their name), Victoria has an OPTIONAL PREFERENTIAL system, requiring a minimum of five sequential numbers against candidatures.

The problem – a problem, I would suggest, for independents especially – is the introduction of allowing a political party (or ‘group’) to decide on a voter’s behalf their preference. This has been well marketed as a ‘simplified’ option by voting ‘above the line’ – effectively placing a ‘1’ against the group’s name, the group (or political party) having provided the Vic. Electoral Commission their voting preferences, and such vote then counted as though this was the wish of the voter.

All sounds, at face value, fairly reasonable. The consequences of this method is that political parties effectively make preference deals amongst themselves for maximal political advantage, irrespective of the political stance of those parties or candidates. A person voting above the line may, as a result, actually have part of their vote allocated to a candidate or party to whom they would be unlikely to vote (as can be seen from perusing the VEC site).

To group the candidates below the line according to political affiliation is sensible and makes for an easier reference for the voter. Similarly, to have the political party’s name above the line for ease of reference for the voter also makes a lot of sense… but the numbering would best be left to only ‘below’ the line – i.e., to the explicit voting preferences of the voter. Political parties (as in fact all candidates) may in any case produce ‘How to Vote’ cards, and given that there is a requirement for only FIVE sequential votes for a valid vote, the argument about accidental invalidity by, for example, numbering 37 twice, does not apply in Victoria.

What are my chances of being elected?

Realistically, very small unless quite a number of electors decide to vote below the line – and number me reasonably high (i.e., between ONE and FIVE). This is judging from previous election patterns in which over 90% of voters choose to vote ‘above the line’. What also appears to have occurred is that Independents have been placed on political parties’ preference cards in a way that seemingly reflects the following: they place themselves (fair enough!) first, then the political parties with whom a deal has been made (irrespective of similarity of view), then the Independents (therefore often numbered in the 20s or 30s), then the other political parties with whom no deal has been made. This appears to be the case across the board and fairly consistently if one looks at all the preference cards of the parties (which, of course, all too few people seem to be looking at, as these are usually solely displayed on the VEC site(s)).

The above should be taken solely as a brief analysis of the situation – I realised before I accepted nomination that my chances would be slight… and of course they not only still are, but there is also a genuine – albeit small – likelihood of being elected.

…I suppose that on this, my best and only realistic chance of being elected is for voters in the Eastern Victoria Region to actually have a look at my website, determine if I am the kind of person they would like to see in Parliament, and then vote below the line accordingly on the Upper House voting paper!






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