[EM] Re: Testing 1 2 3 why Aussies vote party tickets

Anthony Duff anthony_duff at yahoo.com.au
Sun Jan 4 17:47:02 PST 2004

At least where I am from, there is a strong cultural tradition of
most voters faithfully following someone's "party ticket", and I
think there is a simple explanation as to why.

The local electorates use IRV.  About 90% of voters vote their first
preference for either labor or liberal.  When the "1" has been
assigned to one of these two contenders, the following preferences
"2" to N are irrelevant, and not even looked at, except incidentally
by electoral workers.

Now, fully ranking the ballot is and has often been compulsory. 
Truncation invalidates the ballot.  Therefore, voters must rank every
candidate, even though for 90% of voters, the preferences will be
ignored.  The easiest thing to do is to copy the "how to vote card"
(pamphlet) that the voter was given on approach to the polling booth.
This act, of copying a party ticket, is apparently habit forming,
because most voters do the same thing when they go on to cast an
upper house STV ballot.


ps.  What's wrong with IRV?
If you vote for a minor candidate, your preferences will be
transferred.  If you vote for the runner-up, your preferences will be

 --- Dgamble997 at aol.com wrote: > James you wrote:
> >I know it is common in modelling exercises to assume that all
> electors vote 
> "the
> >party ticket", but that is not what a surprising number of real
> electors do 
> in real >elections. I have looked only at the "ballot papers" for
> the Meath 
> constituency of the >2002 Dáil Éireann STV-PR election, but the
> voting patterns 
> have some major >lessons for party managers - and voting system
> modellers.
> >There were 14 candidates for 5 seats and some 64,00 voters. The
> two largest
> >parties (FF and FG) both put up 3 candidates; all the other
> parties put up 
> only 1; >there were also some non-party independents. FF received
> the most 
> first >preferences. About half of those first preferences went to
> one candidate. 
> But of >those who voted "1" for that candidate, only 44% voted "1",
> "2", "3" 
> for FF's three >candidates. 35% of those voters were "lost" at the
> second 
> preference and a further >21% were lost at the third preference. Of
> course, many of 
> those voters "came back" >to FF at a subsequent preference, but it
> does show 
> that the "party ticket" is a gross
> >over-simplification as a model for real voter behaviour.
> I reply:
>  In some political cultures there is a greater tendency to vote the
> party 
> ticket than others. I have just been looking at the transfer
> patterns for the 
> Bass division of the Tasmanian House of Assembly for the 2002 state
> election for 
> the 3 largest parties. For the Labor party on each transfer of
> surplus/ 
> elimination of a candidate between 83 and 90% of the votes
> transferred to other 
> Labor candidates. For the Green party between 87 and 91% of votes
> transferred to 
> continuing candidates of the same party. For the Liberal  party the
> figure was 
> 90- 96%.
> http://www.electoral.tas.gov.au/pages/house.htm
> Also in Australian Senate elections with "above" and "below" the
> line voting  
> you can sometimes find that over 99% of a candidate's surplus
> transfers to 
> the next candidate of the same party.
> David Gamble

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