[EM] recommendations Australia's STV/party list not so bad

Anthony Duff anthony_duff at yahoo.com.au
Mon Aug 30 17:17:58 PDT 2004

 --- James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote: 
> The facility for party voting in
> the Australian Federal Senate STV-PR elections is a gross
> perversion of STV.  It has reduced STV to
> just another party list PR system.

Background:  The ballot is divided into two by a horizontal line. 
Below the line is every candidate arranged by party, each candidate
has a box in which you write a number.  Above the line are parties. 
Filling in the party box means that you use the parties nominated
ranking.  There are hundreds of candidates.  The ballot is a single
piece of paper the size of a tablecloth.  In both Australia
federally, and the state of NSW, an upper house is elected by STV.

I think James exaggerates.  It is not that bad.  The method is
"extended" not "reduced", in that the voter can ignore the party list
option.  If the voter doesn't like the list of candidates of his
favourite party, then he can vote below the line.  Most people vote
above the line.  I think this reflects the fact that the parties put
up reasonable lists of candidates.  The ability of the voter to go
below the line is what keeps the parties honest.

However, I do support the current NSW state elections incarnation of
the method above the federal method.  (State elections can never be
held simultaneously with federal elections.)  In the federal method,
a single party vote above the line completes the ranking for every
candidate below the line, and the detail of this is beyond a voters
ability to remember and comprehend.  The voter does not rank parties.
 In NSW, a party vote above the line ranks only the candidates of
that party.  The voter can rank the parties above the line.  Another
bad thing about the federal method is that to use the below the line
STV proper method, you are obliged to rank a very large number of
candidates without error or the attempt is invalidated.  NSW has no
such requirement, you may rank as many or as few as you like. 
(neither method allows for equal rankings except for truncation)


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