Monday, 14 June 2010

Where does your vote preference go?

People ask me a lot of questions about preferences such as:

"Where will you give your preferences?"

"Isn't a vote for the Greens a wasted vote?"

"If I vote 1 Green, won't I risk electing the major party I don't want?"

"Do I have to follow your how-to-vote card if I vote Green?"

The simple answer is it's your choice: You choose where your vote preference goes.
You do not need to be dictated to by parties on how to vote. Your vote and your preference should not be directed by political deals you had nothing to do with.

The most important thing is that you vote "1" Green. After that, it's up to you.
In the lower house, political parties don't "direct" preferences or "give" preferences - they print how-to-vote cards. However, these are only a guide - the decision is yours. You choose where your preference goes by how you allocate numbers to the rest of the candidates after your first one.

For your vote to be valid, you must place a different number in every square of your ballot paper.

The Greens are not a preference machine
The Greens are not a preference machine for any other party. I am not standing to get someone else elected. I want to be elected as your parliamentary representative for Melbourne and to implement the policies and values that are important to our supporters and beneficial to the residents of Melbourne.

Public funding
Your vote for the Greens is not wasted. Whichever party you put number 1 is paid public funding for that vote - and that has a real impact on the ability of a small party like the Greens to campaign. to stimulate debate on important issues and to put forward alternative policies to those of the large old political parties. The amount is currently about $1.40 per first preference vote in Victorian elections. It's more for federal elections.

Here in Victoria, electoral funding may only be paid to a party if they have already spent it on the campaign. In other words, parties may be reimbursed for expenses, but may not use the election as a money-making exercise.

After the last State election, the following amounts were paid to political parties

Labor $3,282,127.23
Liberal $2,684,173.46
Nationals $367,761.28
Greens $788,662.84

So if you give your first preference to the Greens, you are directing public funding to them - and away from the old political parties.

Your local representative
In the lower house you vote for a local representative who will work for you. Local members can have a real impact on decision-making. If you vote for me as your local representative I won't be hamstrung by a party machine trying to be all things to all people. Your vote is a powerful statement of the values you want to see reflected in parliament.

Your vote for me will not be wasted - if elected I will strive to represent you in the Victorian parliament, and if I'm not elected the message sent by a strong Greens vote in Melbourne will certainly be heard and will influence whoever is elected.

Double value voting!
The cartoon at the top of this post shows how the preference votes are counted. Electoral officers take the candidate who comes last and distribute their preferences to the other candidates, and then the candidate who comes second last, and so on until one candidate has over 50% of the vote.

When the Greens come third (or lower) their votes are distributed and your second preference will be passed on to the party of your second choice as a vote of full value. In effect, your vote counts twice.

Special arrangements for the Upper House
In the Upper House (the Legislative Council), there are many candidates. You can number them all sequentially, and make the decision on preferencing for yourself, but any mistake in numbering them makes the whole vote invalid.

To avoid this problem you can put a "1" above the line in the box for the party of your choice - and then your preferences are distributed according to that party's preference allocation that is usually shown on their how-to-vote cards. By law parties must register their preferences for this purpose with the Electoral Office. You can ask to see how those preferences will be distributed if you vote "above the line".

If you want more information on this on election day please ask your friendly Greens volunteers handing out how-to-vote cards.

No decision on how-to-vote cards yet
In the Melbourne lower house (Legislative Assembly) electorate, where I am standing, there is no "above the line" voting - and voters have to number all the squares. The Greens have not yet made any decision about our how-to-vote cards. We will finalize this closer to the election, depending on the candidates and the policies, and I will put a copy on this blog when it is available.

Don't risk putting the Greens second
In this seat of Melbourne the Greens have now come second for several elections - which means the preferences on our votes have not been distributed at all - it has come down to a choice between Labor and the Greens. That means that if you vote Labor "1" and then Greens "2" the second preference for the Greens will never be counted. It is the same as putting the Greens last.

The Greens will also need preferences from other candidates
We are not likely to win the seat of Melbourne on first preferences, so we will be hoping to gain second preferences from those who would give their first vote to someone other than Labor or the Greens. How other parties suggest preferences on their how-to-vote cards is up to them, but remember that the final choice is yours, not theirs.

Melbourne is very close - every vote will count
The vote in Melbourne is very close. Last time, after preferences, Labor's Bronwyn Pike received a total of 16,544 votes, and the Greens' Richard Di Natale received 15,345 votes. On these figures, if only 600 voters changed from Labor to the Greens this time, we would win the seat. If you are one of these 600 voters, you can create history by electing me as the first ever Greens member of parliament for the State seat of Melbourne.

The Melbourne electorate will be decided on a handful of votes - every one of them is powerful.

External links

No comments:

Post a Comment