Brisbane City – next day wrap-up


For this post, I’m not going to dwell too much on individual races and where they are up to, but instead look at broader trends. I’ll do another post today or tomorrow about the close races and what we’re waiting to see.

There were quite a few votes that weren’t counted last night. Almost 600,000 votes were counted for the lord mayoral election, but barely 450,000 primary votes were counted for the council election, and only about 60% of those votes had preferences distributed.

Overall the story is simple. The LNP’s vote largely stood still, while there was a substantial swing from Labor to the Greens. The Labor vote is still larger than the Greens vote, but not by a wide margin.

At the time of writing, Adrian Schrinner’s primary vote is up by just 0.2%, while the LNP council team is up by 0.7%. The swing from Labor to Greens was 4.5% on the mayoral ballot and about 6% on the council ballot.

The LNP is not winning an enormous share of the vote – Schrinner is on 48% of the primary vote and 55.8% after preferences – but with a single-member system with optional preferential voting it’s enough to win in a landslide when facing two opponents who split the anti-LNP vote fairly evenly.

There is a clear geographic polarisation of the centre-left vote, with the Greens polling better in the inner city and western suburbs, and Labor still being dominant in an outer suburban ring.

This first map shows which of the centre-left parties is polling higher in each ward, and can be toggled to show how much of the combined Labor+Greens vote was for the higher-polling party.

Labor is very much in the position of a minor party in some of those inner city wards. The party polled under 20% in Central, Paddington, Walter Taylor, The Gap, Pullenvale, Tennyson and Coorparoo.

This table shows the primary vote for the twelve wards in the inner/western suburbs, and the fourteen wards in the remainder of the council.

Inner & Western Suburbs 44.0% 20.1% 30.8%
Outer Suburbs 46.7% 34.5% 17.7%

The LNP does slightly better in the outer suburbs, but face very different opponents. The Greens poll a vote 50% higher than Labor in the inner city, while Labor’s vote is twice the Greens vote in the outer suburbs.

Labor reached the 2CP in all fourteen outer suburban wards, but just two inner city wards (Holland Park and Morningside). An independent has been re-elected in Tennyson, but the other nine inner city wards are LNP vs Greens contests.

Of course there is not a hard-and-fast boundary between Greensland and Laborland. In eighteen wards, the higher-polling centre-left party polled less than double the vote for the other party. The parties are basically tied in Jamboree, and are also very close in Holland Park and Hamilton.

The use of optional preferential voting becomes more of an issue in wards where Labor and Greens both poll a substantial share of the vote. I have previously posted about how I believe three wards would have flipped from LNP to either Labor or Greens if compulsory preferential voting was used. I’m sure we’ll find something similar once we have a more complete dataset for this election, indeed there may be even more. There are a lot of close wards.

Optional preferential voting is often talked about as this force of nature, almost equivalent to first past the post. But some preferences do flow under OPV. While FPTP removes choice from a voter by forcing them to choose between their favourite candidate and the candidate with the best chance of winning, OPV doesn’t do that. And we do see rates of preferencing change depending on the political context.

Based on the early data, it looks like there’s been a significant uptick in rates of preferences flowing from Labor to Greens and vice versa.

This first table compares how preferences from all minor candidates flowed to the final candidates at the 2020 Brisbane City election to the flows last night. I excluded any primary votes in booths where a preference count has not been concluded, so it is definitely a partial dataset. And this also includes preferences from other minor candidates, but there aren’t many of those.

ALP in top two, 2020 10.2% 46.3% 43.5%
ALP in top two, 2024 11.4% 57.4% 31.2%
Greens in top two, 2020 13.5% 35.4% 51.1%
Greens in top two, 2024 17.0% 49.2% 33.8%

Generally Labor preferences don’t flow to the Greens as strongly as vice versa, but the exhaust rates in both scenarios have dropped substantially. While half of all preferences exhausted in Greens contests in 2020, that rate is barely one third in 2024.

The number of votes flowing to the LNP did go up, but by much less than Labor or the Greens. Even if the ratio of preferences flowing to the LNP stays steady, it’s still more helpful to their opponents to have less votes exhausting.

But was that just a relic of 2020? I wanted to look over a longer period, but council elections are messier, with different ranges of candidates, wards with no Greens candidate, and changes in who made the 2CP. This isn’t true for the lord mayoral election. This next chart shows how preferences from other candidates (predominantly the Greens) split between LNP, Labor and exhausted votes at the last six elections, plus last night. The lord mayoral election also has the advantage of having a more complete dataset than the council election.

It looks like there has been a long-term trend of Labor gaining more preferences, which probably reflects the increasing vote share of the Greens (whereas most of the “others” vote in 2000 was from independents), but still the 2024 data looks quite different to 2016 and 2020.

This probably explains why the ABC and Poll Bludger were having a lot of trouble projecting results last night. With the ECQ taking a long time to count (partly explained by counting the lord mayoral election first, but it seems like there are other issues), they were relying on assumptions about how preferences based on past elections. If those preference flows change, those assumptions will be wrong.

The Brisbane election is a brilliant example of how electoral system design have massive impacts on outcomes.

The LNP is not overwhelmingly popular – the LNP hasn’t won a majority of the vote at either the 2020 or 2024 elections, but look set to win a significant majority in addition to the mayoralty. There is no single centre-left party that can rival them in popularity, but Labor and the Greens did poll a majority of the council vote between them.

It is true that the result would probably do a better job of reflecting how people voted under CPV than OPV, but I don’t think that should be the end of the story. Any single-member electorate system will do a very poor job of representing a community that is voting the way we saw in Brisbane last night.

It doesn’t have to be that way. New South Wales, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and to a lesser extent South Australia and regional Victoria have proportional electoral systems that do a better job of representing voters. Even three-member wards would produce much better results and make the question of whether voters are forced to mark preferences much less important.

The Queensland government has now been in power for nine years and has totally failed to tackle the poor state of Queensland local government electoral systems. The block vote system used for undivided councils is an embarrassment, and the single-member wards used in the south east aren’t much better. Queenslanders should demand better.

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  1. @ Ben Messenger

    Sorry I don’t buy your argue and to be honest I don’t really know what you mean by “If you had been compelled to fill out more preferences you would have cast a more powerful vote to express your opinion on the governance of Brisbane.”

    Here am thinking that I was expressing my vote powerfully, yet you are saying I am not (according to your belief of how I should express myself). You are still trying to fit me into a preconceive notion of who I am and then make this fit in with your belief that CPV is the bees knees. I have already said that:
    # I lean left – that doesn’t mean I will always vote Labor or Greens. I have voted LNP in the past when I think the occasion calls for it (like this upcoming State election – Its Time).
    # I like Schrinner because he is a more moderate Liberal, but that doesn’t mean I like the rest of the gang.
    # I didn’t put a preference for Schrinner because I knew that he would win (assuming this is what you mean by more powerful vote).
    # I voted 1 only for the Greens because in my mind – my more powerful vote was a middle finger to both Labor and the LNP that what both of them are doing in a number of areas isn’t good enough. Just maybe if enough people did the same, then both major parties will come to the realisation that they will have to try something different. But if force to give a preference, then both major parties could continue on with their magic thinking that everything is right in the world and the voting public love what we are doing – can’t you see the 2PP vote!!!

  2. Likewise, making voting voluntary could work if you have all the necessary safeguards (in the US, that will mean mandatory legislation to implement alternate or remote methods for voting, minimum numbers of in person/election day polling booths to match population levels, and independent redistricting – provisions that are already in place for Australia).

  3. This debate demonstrates why multi-member proportional seats with OPV are a superior option – they mean you can have OPV without any serious vote-splitting issue and better represent their population

  4. Agree Babaluma, this is the system currently in use for NSW council elections and was widely used for Victoria until recent legislation forced many councils to scrap that method in favour of single member wards.

  5. Neil Flanagan, fair response.

    For me though, OPV vs CPV is like deciding which pair of sandals I want to wear to the swimming pool. I need to leave the house with a pair of sandals on, but it doesn’t matter much which pair, because I’m going to take them off once I get to the pool anyway. It’s a less important decision than, say, which piece of swimwear I wear. Similarly, we need some form of preferential voting, but it’s all not that relevant when we have single-member seats, which are not good at reflecting the true will of the people. What’s more important for the democratic perspective is pursuing multi-member electorates instead of single-member, winner-take-all contests.

  6. When the next state election comes not voting for the LNP is a vote for Democracy, that party has drifted further to the right with members from the Newman Government still in office, as long as there’s a single member from Newman’s Government don’t vote for any of them, the fact that they want to reintroduce an inferior voting system should be a red flag to anyone

  7. Ben M
    I find your argument strange – just because I support OPV does not mean that I don’t support compulsory voting. I actually think that compulsory voting i one of the great strengths of our system as it does force the disengaged to at least mildly engage and it does recognise the ‘sensible centre’. Also, you can’t rely on another voter doing your heavy lifting i.e young UK non voters complaining about the Brexit result.

    Yoh An
    The only reason, it is made so easy for us to vote is compulsory voting, if it was voluntary the choices would become much more limited. I think whatever we say here, we should never compare ourselves and God Forbid see any part of the US electoral system as even slightly superior to ours.

  8. “The only reason, it is made so easy for us to vote is compulsory voting”

    That is a common opinion but I’m sceptical. If you look at the US as a sample size of one you might think that, but there’s plenty of countries without compulsory voting that make it easier to vote.

    One of the main features of our system that makes it easy to vote is that people can go anywhere in their state to vote. That was achieved in 1901, well before compulsory voting.

    I think bigger factors are Australia’s election administration being managed at a national level by a professional apolitical public service.

  9. Let’s try making a different point in the OPV vs CPV debate.

    The thing I don’t think is appreciated by the pro-OPV side is that soft disenfranchisement (voters falling down the trap door and exhausting their ballot accidentally) changes results, whereas voters that legitimately have no opinion between two candidates being compelled find some way to randomly decide some preferences statistically won’t change a result (they should on average cancel each-other out).

    I’m concerned with the result of the election aligning with the will of the people much more than I am with the warm and fuzzy feelings some people get by leaving some candidates blank.

    We all know that OPV and CPV deliver different results, and we know that this is why parties have tactically introduced one or the other in the past. But which delivers results that better align with the will of the people?

    In the recent federal election should the division of Gilmore have been won by the Coalition? Curtin, Ryan, Lyons, Bennelong, Higgins, etc. ?

  10. @ Ben Messenger

    I don’t think you are making a different point. Your starting proposition always appears to be “the result of the election [must] aligning with the will of the people” and I keep on asking “how do you know what is the will of the people?” Have you taken a nation wide referendum and asked – If given the choice would you prefer OPV or CPV? My starting point is that many people (I don’t know how many) would prefer to just number as many candidates as they wish and leave it at that. But you seem to persist with the idea that somehow OPVers are silly and falling through some imaginary soft disenfranchisement trap door? Can you point to an actual academic study that backs up this assertion?

    I don’t know you, but you sound like a statistician who has the belief that the bigger the sample size the more the “outside noise” get cancelled out and the greater the probability that you will get a “truer” result (although I would dispute that assumption).

    So what is you position on Senate voting? I am assuming you would have been outraged by taking away the compulsion to number all 100 or so boxes below line. After we need to aligning with the will of the people to ensure any potential soft disenfranchisement voters are not falling down the trap door!

  11. There is no need to have a consistent rule as to the minimum number of preferencing for a single-member contest (with a much smaller ballot and preferences playing a major role) compared to a multi-member contest where they are both less important and you would be requiring more preference.

    It is a fact that if we had CPV, the Greens and Labor would have won some wards that they actually lost to the LNP. The LNP is massively over-represented on the new BCC, with a supermajority on less than 50% of the vote. Therefore CPV would bring us closer to a proportional result, in this specific case.

  12. I take umbrage with “just vote 1” campaigning because it isn’t making an argument. It seems entirely based on the premise of convincing people, who are NOT voting for the party funding the message, not to use the full extent of their voting power. And it’s not even arguing who does or doesn’t deserve preferences, just an appeal to misunderstanding and people being time poor

    I think Ben’s proposal (CPV in all comms, but with savings provisions that make it OPV in practice) is good solely to make fake official looking “just vote 1” campaign materials illegal. The only downside is that it would make it illegal to say true things about the electoral system, but this is already the case with Senate voting I think (you have to recommend 6 boxes even though you can have a valid vote numbering fewer). “Number every box to ENSURE your vote counts” is true.

  13. Interestingly the Senate voting system doesn’t involve any prohibition on advocating a single 1, but there’s not the same incentive to say Just Vote 1 under a PR system.

    I think you could pass regulations that specifically ban advocacy for Just Vote 1 but mostly are limited to regulating what’s on HTVs without preventing free discussion of the system more generally. But also don’t underestimate the value of a ballot that says “Number every box”, and Electoral Commission staff who say that, and official advertising from the Commission advocating numbering every box.

  14. Someone seems to have worked out how to impersonate me in the comments but I think I’ve blocked them now. They never had access to anything behind the scenes.

  15. @Ben Messenger For a little bit of history…
    “You need to look no further than the odious “Just Vote 1” signs in neutral colours brandished about by the LNP to see the intent is to disenfranchise Labor and Green voters who would preference against the LNP by tricking them.”

    The Just Vote 1 signs are almost identical to those used by the Goss Government when it introduced OPV to split the Liberal and National votes in three cornered contests. I know that because I still have one of those corflutes in the garage. As a matter of history, playing around with voting processes tends to eventually come back and bite you.

    The reason why the Bjelke-Petersen government had almost no oversight was due to the abolition of the Upper House in 1922 by the ALP Government the year after a referendum voted to keep it.

    The “gerrymander” – more technically weighted regional seats – was introduced by the ALP to stack the regional seats where the population contained a majority of AWU members, including sheep shearers. The biggest changes were made in 1949, under the Hanlon Labor government.

    The history of OPV/FPV is:
    1892 – Optional Preferential voting introduced (Liberal)
    1942 – First Past The Post voting reintroduced (Labor)
    1991 – Optional Preferential voting reintroduced (Labor)
    2016 – Full Preferential voting reintroduced for State elections only (Labor)

  16. Political movements have a life span and eventually they either die or change so much as to be unrecognisable. In the short term it’s due to incompetence and infighting; in the medium term it’s redistributions and in the long term it’s demographics.

    The situation in Brisbane is now due mostly to demographics. The actual boundary of Brisbane is constrained, even though it’s one of the biggest cities in Australia by area. Once you get past that you’re in “Greater Brisbane”, and beyond that lies SEQ and the SEQ catchment area (which extends as far as Byron Bay in NSW). I like to define the size of a city by how far you’d go for a coffee catch-up with friends; so Byron, Noosa and Toowoomba are all in that drive. The Gold Coast, from the southside, is practically the next suburb over.

    So, demographics. A projected 6.2 million people in the Greater Brisbane area by 2046. Maximum height skyscrapers in West End, and three-storey apartments in Boonah. I live on a two hectare farm on the edge of Brisbane and in five years time it will probably contain 120 three-storey townhouses. So instead of having a Labor-voting ring in the outer and inner working-class suburbs, a Green core in the progressive wealthy areas and the LNP taking the middle class suburban sprawl and the establishment wealthy areas, the ALP is being wedged out of the inner-city entirely and the population who previously lived in the outer city is being forced into the adjoining Local Government areas like Logan, Ipswich and Moreton Bay (none of which they contest as an official party). They took a big hit this time in Wynum-Manly (median house price $1,030,000) and Forest Lake ($736,000) containing Inala ($605,000). They did well in Calamvale ($1,050,000) based on a significant Chinese and Muslim vote but that is VERY concentrated.

    The electorates of Northgate and Marchant are not natural LNP seats, but they’ve also been subject to significant gentrification over the past ten years. Banyo is almost trendy. I think that the reason Pullenvale went backwards for The Greens is substantially down to their housing policies – extra development costs and forcibly reducing rents doesn’t play well in an area where that’s a significant source of income for people.

    I don’t believe the ALP has a future in Brisbane City Council politics. With only 7 percent in the Mayoral contest between The Greens and the ALP this time, the Green vote is going to continue to cannibalise Labor. A more “suburban acceptable” Greens Mayoral candidate with a long lead time will make the next Mayoral race a lot closer.

    The ALP will reach a point where it either has to cut its losses or continue to pump money into losing campaigns. Of the 26 BCC Wards, the LNP won 8 of the them on primaries, the ALP 2 and an Independent 1. That’s 11 seats where OPV vs CPV doesn’t matter.

  17. @Ben Raue “I think you could pass regulations that specifically ban advocacy for Just Vote 1 but mostly are limited to regulating what’s on HTVs without preventing free discussion of the system more generally.”

    I think you could pass them Ben but I don’t think they’d survive a High Court challenge. While the 1996 Langer decision could support it, s329A was amended in 1997 following the JSCEM Inquiry and it’s recommendation to repeal that part of the Act. The decision in Lange vs Australian Broadcasting Commission and Levy vs The State of Victoria introduced the concept of Implied Freedom of Political Speech and it’s been hard to get rid of since then. McCloy vs NSW has refined it by introducing a three-step test.

    I’d argue that if you introduced a regulation to ban advocacy for Just Vote 1 you can have CPV or the Savings Provision, but you can’t have both. That’s because the Savings Provision allows a valid vote to be counted for a single 1 and advocacy for a legal vote would be allowable under the Implied Freedom of Political Speech.

    So the checklist would be:-
    1) If I vote this way will my vote be counted?;
    2) If I’m recommending a legal way of voting can a regulation stop me from doing so?;
    3) If the regulation is introduced does it go against the Implied Freedom of Political Speech?

    One way to get around this would be to say that the ballot paper MUST be filled out in a prescribed way and any other way will render the vote invalid. Then you could introduce a regulation that bans advocacy.

  18. @ Neil Flanagan

    “how do you know what is the will of the people?”

    By asking on a CPV ballot.

    When a voter that was going to exhaust their ballot instead is compelled to fill in more preferences they can determine who they’re going to add to their ballot in whatever way they wish. I have been recommending to people that maintain that they really prefer all remaining candidates exactly equally to randomise the rest of their ballot. Alternative you could “donkey vote” all the blank boxes straight down the ballot

    If these voters used the randomisation method they would cancel each-other out and the preference flow rates would tend toward 50% when CPV is introduced. It doesn’t

    If these voters used a donkey vote method then that would show up quite strongly in analysed. It doesn’t.

    What behaviour do we *actually* see? Quite strongly party aligned preference flows! Almost as if those voters actually *do* have a preference.

    “So what is you position on Senate voting?”

    Unlike in winner takes all single member electorates it will be rare for accidental exhaustion to deliver a party or group of parties a false majority in the quasi-proportional STV system. Further reform to the senate voting system is not high on my priorities list, we pretty much get a bang on correct result after 2016 reform.

    In a complete utopia the first thing I’d be fixing about our senate wouldn’t even be the exhaustion. The first thing I would do is abolish even-numbered half senate elections, they should all be odd-number of vacancies. Then I’d want to reduce the malapportionment (I know that’s pretty much impossible due to the constitution, we are talking utopia here). Then I’d want to introduce national top-up seats so that a party getting 5% of the vote in every state doesn’t get zero seats (this would happen to also reduce the effect of exhaustion to zero anyway).

  19. A Greens primary vote of 26% in Forest Lake is absolutely insane! It’s insane since it’s in the outer suburbs, culturally diverse and is mainly low in socioeconomics. This is another case of the Greens taking votes off Labor but not the LNP.

    The Greens only got 10% at the Inala by-election but there were 8 candidates, not 3, who potentially split the votes.

  20. @Ben Messenger Getting off topic here, but you should read the Senate Ballot Paper Study 2016 on Exhaustion. It made me rethink how we should be counting the Senate ballot papers and I pointed out ways to fix it in the JSCEM 2022 Inquiry.

    With respect to top up seats, the first thing I’d do is set up 10 parties, cross-preference them to get as many as possible to 5 percent and then leverage those Senators. 🙂

    Although there’s one really simple fix we could do now – split the ATL and BTL Senate ballot papers. So when you get your name crossed off you get asked if you’re voting above or below the line and get that particular ballot paper. Not only does it make counting easier, it also prevents misvotes. From a graphic design point of view it also fixes a lot of the limitations with having to line up parties with candidates.

  21. Ben M
    Another advantage of OPV vs CPV is the rate of informal voting. With CPV every box has to be correctly numbered- with OPV there just has to be a valid ‘1’. Informal voting has usually been higher in CALD areas. Lets compare basically the same area – Fowler 2022 vs Cabramatta 2023 – 10.5% informal vs 5.5% informal. A significant difference. Or Calwell 2022 vs Kalkallo 2022 – 6.1% vs 8.0% – the latter had more candidates. There will be a higher informal voting rate with CPV than OPV – with OPV more people have their vote count. Surely more important?

  22. @ Mark Yore

    Only if you design the top-up seats naively. My utopian system would involve only having ballots that do *not* elect a candidate travel on to the national top-up round. The quota to win a top-up seat would be the same as the quota to win a regular seat. This would thereby avoiding any dummy party double dipping strategy.

    @ Redistributed

    You can have CPV plus savings provisions.

    My personal favourite implimentation I’ve seen is the South Australian system where partially complete ballots that are congruent to the beginning of a party’s HTV card will be ruled formal, and assumed to follow the whole HTV card. It’s basically a secret Group Voting Ticket. Unlike in the old senate system voters are *not* instructed to vote this way, they’re supposed to choose their own preferences and the GVT only swoops in to salvage a small number of votes that would otherwise be informal.

    Ideally I would modify that South Australian system to the following:

    Whenever a group of ballots would exhaust instead they are reweighted to zero and the value of all non-exhausting ballots that had the same 1st preference are increased in weighting (keeping the total value left in the count the same). Essentially the savings provision for incomplete ballots would be to follow the behaviour of similar ballots rather than literally following a party GVT.

  23. @Redistributed that’s one way of looking at participation. But with CPV, everyone’s vote ends up somewhere. With OPV, your vote can exhaust and you have no say in which candidate wins.

    It’s not as simple as saying CPV equals less enfranchisement. People get disenfranchised in different ways by both methods.

  24. @ Ben Messenger

    I still don’t accept your logic. You are using a “forced CPV vote” to justify the result you want to achieve (i.e. this is the will of the people). We have a real live data set in the LG elections to demonstrate that where people are given the CHOICE, some (I don’t know how many) chose not to give their full preference. It would be an interesting analysis to see the actual will of the people – how many people VOLUNTARILY listed out their full preferences at the last LG elections as opposed to just voting for a few. I am not a party person or a scrutineers or working in AEC, so I don’t know what these figures say, but I would be surprised if more than 70% of people voted for every candidate and that can be (subjectively) put down to the plain confusion that most people have with the different systems in place at Federal, State and LG elections.

    I wouldn’t be so strongly opposed to CPV if I could equally number all the other candidates I disliked with the same number – thus neutralising their vote (i.e. I put all all disliked parties / candidates as equal numbers, so the preference stopped before getting to them). A number of years ago this was a valid vote, but surprise surprise both Labor and LNP voted together to change that option – I wonder why?

    You are not going to change my mind on this matter and I am not going to change your mind on the same.

  25. @ Neil Flanagan

    Yes it’s a forced vote, you could even say it’s compulsory voting. We already accept making things compulsory as a valid technique to improve democratic systems in Australia.

    Anti compulsory voting people will make a nearly identical argument as you have, saying we can’t use the voting behaviour of people forced to vote to justify its utility ahead of voluntary voting which they would undoubtedly characterise as the true “will of the people.”

    We probably aren’t going to agree, no.

    I feel like you prioritise designing a ballot to allow a certain kind of voter to feel warm and fuzzy (even though I believe the outcomes caused are at best neutral and at worst disenfranchisement) where’s I’m prioritising designing an *electoral system* to maximise the alignment of the elected representative with the opinions of the constituents.

    I call intentionally exhausting the ballot as only a “warm fuzzy feeling” while you’ll probably characterise it as “not giving your support to candidates you don’t want to.” But in my view that’s misunderstanding what the ballot is asking you.

    When you put a number 2 next to a candidate you do not have your immortal soul go on trial for “supporting” them, you simply increase their chances of defeating some other candidates. If you don’t care if they defeat those other candidates then *this choice you’ve made is neutral to you*! By definition!

    On your uncertainty of whether voters accidentally fall down the trap door I once again point you to the massive number of “Just Vote 1” signs… The LNP clearly think a lot of people can be tricked.

    If we allowed cardinal preferences instead of only ordinal preferences that could be interesting. Presumably a votes value would be divided among all equal preferences. I think there might be strategic voting implications for this in STV (Ginninderra effect would seem possible) but I can’t think of any for single member electorates. Allowing cardinal preferences would also likely confuse some voters.

  26. “Tier list” voting – very interesting. You’d probably want to do it by letter rather than number (“grading” candidates). Counting would need to be done by computer with all the “partial votes”. But that’s true for the senate as well.

  27. Cardinal voting is a can of worms when it comes to tactical voting.

    Consider a Labor versus Greens electorate where the Liberals (or anyone else) have virtually no chance of winning. It would be reasonable for a Greens supporter to give the Greens the maximum score, and Labor the minimum score, even if that’s not how they feel. Vice versa for a Labor supporter.

    Even in multi-seat electorates, this still plays out. Consider these voters in a strongly Liberal-voting three-member electorate where it is a foregone conclusion that the Liberals will win two seats, with Labor and the Greens fighting over the third. The same phenomenon applies.

  28. CPV selects the most preferred candidate. This is consistent with *representative* democracy where MPs must represent all their constituents, not just their own voters.

    The PM must retain the confidence of a majority of MPs in the house, and each MP has to retain the confidence of the majority of their constituents. In CPV, MPs and governments are voted out whenever that confidence tipping point shifts to someone else. This is tipping point is probably the foundation for the old maxim, “Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them”. If you lose the confidence of the people, you’re out.

    Yes, CPV includes a margin of informal votes, but this could be minimised with a savings provision.

    OPV includes a margin of exhausted votes. This gives MPs leeway to prioritise the interests of their own voters above the common interest, because they’ll only be voted out when this margin is overcome.

    This is means OPV is less democratic, because the democratic deficit (the difference between the government that the voters want and the one they get) can become greater in OPV than in CPV before a change of government is made.

    What’s worse is that many people don’t realise that in OPV, if their vote exhausts, their vote will make it easier for the leading candidate to win. This functions like a hidden preference – you might have no preference for either of the top two candidates, but you’ve just helped elect one of them, and when you cast your vote you would not know who that was. I don’t think that most apathetic voters would know this.

    It seems the main interest of OPV advocates is to prioritise the freedom of the individual to vote the way they want. This is a very libertarian stance. In a democracy, citizens have both rights and responsibilities. Your right to express yourself on your vote precisely the way you want it should not supersede your responsibility to your fellow citizens to do your bit to help elect the most preferred MP into parliament.

    The other complaint of OPV advocates is that they are being forced to preference distasteful candidates. Ben M is right to point out that this is a misunderstanding how the voting system works. In CPV, as long as you have a preference for one of the final two candidates, then it doesn’t matter what other numbers you put in, your vote will never reach them. (And if you don’t have a preference, then ask someone you trust, or follow your #1 vote’s how-to-vote card – deferring your preference to someone else’s advice is as valid as deferring your decision-making to your elected MP).


    1. In a democracy, the people have ultimate power… and responsibility.

    2. Since the people are deferring their everyday decision-making to elected representatives, it’s not unreasonable for the people to be asked every 3-4 years what their full preferences are – whoever *you* elect as *your* MP will be acting on your behalf whether you voted for them or not – or if your vote exhausted.

    3. Whichever system we use, we do need better civic education.

    4. If commenters here aren’t being persuaded one way or the other, the middle-ground solution of CPV with a savings provision is a very reasonable one.

    I’ll also +1 Ben M’s previous comment:

    “Voting systems should be designed to make it easy for voters to cast *effective* ballots, not just *formal* ballots. CPV ballot instructions with robust savings provisions would be good.”

  29. @Redistributed Informality also scales proportionately with the number of candidates. The more candidates, the more informals simply because there’s more opportunities to make mistakes.

    Funnily enough it doesn’t work that way in the Senate. Not just because of the savings provisions for errors, but also because the type of people who do below-the-line votes tend to be a lot more accurate in filling out the form.

    Funny story – I was doing Declared Institutions once for a Federal Election and was asked by the RO to do an assistance vote for a lady who had turned 100. But it wasn’t for a Reps ballot, it was for a COMPLETE BTL Senate paper and she wanted me to check that she had filled it out correctly. She had, which was pretty impressive. She told me that this was probably the last Senate vote she would ever complete and she wanted to make sure that her vote counted.

  30. @Ben Messenger “On your uncertainty of whether voters accidentally fall down the trap door I once again point you to the massive number of “Just Vote 1” signs… The LNP clearly think a lot of people can be tricked.”

    And again I’ll point you to the fact that it’s a legal vote and a legal instruction, much the same as the ALP’s “Number Every Square”.

    What is unlawful are the unauthorised preference cards mimicking the Legalise Cannabis Party handed out by union and ALP booth workers at the Ipswich West by-election.

  31. @ Mark Yore

    The law does not define what is right. Using the law as the definition of what’s right, and then saying the law shouldn’t change because it’s right, is circular logic.

    I believe it is not right that parties can attempt to win by confusing voters who would preference them last into preferencing nobody at all! It’s an affront to democracy. Parties should solely be campaigning to get voters to *support them* not trying to confound the supporters of other parties. That’s why I think the system should be changed.

    And again we return to informal voting. We are all in furious agreement that savings provisions are very good. How come the pro-OPV side are so against having a savings provision against people being confused into not casting a preference that they *would* have cast if they understood the implications in the moment? Ie- CPV.

  32. @ Caleb

    On the ABC? Looks like they swapped from the unofficial preliminary council to the official 1st preference count. Less % counted.

  33. Yeah, a bit strange, it looks like ECQ updated the results for the “Postal Declaration Votes” with a partial count of the “Official first preference count”. So the LNP is missing 2253 votes from the unofficial preliminary count, GRN are missing 804 and ALP are missing 527.

    I wonder how they could randomly count such an unrepresentative sample of the postals when examining the 477 postals that have made it to the official count. They must have been ordered / grouped in some way. I didn’t realise that they upload partial official first preference counts though. That is the first time I’ve seen that this election.

  34. @Ben Messenger At no point did I say the law shouldn’t change. In fact I think lots of laws relating to elections should change. So the straw man argument that it’s circular logic appears to be missing one of the legs that argument depends on.

    So what should change? Donation laws shouldn’t be dependent on whether or not you belong to a proscribed group unless you directly benefit from policy or planning decisions that governments make. So that would remove property developers as a group but would permanently add lobbyists, industry bodies and enterprises that operate under a government license e.g. casinos.

    I’d like a consistent voting process so people in Inala don’t get confused because the State vote is CPV but the Council vote is OPV. The same goes for Ipswich West. For goodness sake have a discussion about what voting system would be best and then just make a decision. Don’t try and change it because you think it might advantage you in the short term.

    The ECQ is manifestly incompetent. Get the AEC to run State and Council elections and get the ECQ to write the independent report after each one. We have three elections and one redistribution where the ECQ has manifestly failed to deliver.

    For goodness sake change the Council election date in Queensland! Move it back 5 months to October the year before the State election. For a start it will fix the problem with two and potentially three elections in the same year. It will minimise the possibility of people jumping between State and Council. And for those in North Queensland it will mean not having elections in the middle of cyclone season.

    About savings provisions – for the last JSCEM Inquiry I suggested electronic voting with a paper receipt that could do guided voting for CPV but allow a deliberate choice to not complete all (or any) of the boxes. It would have the advantage of being able to produce very quick indicative results with the security of paper verification for marginal and selected random seats. For everyone who said it won’t work we literally put millions of dollars on the same process when we put Gold Lotto entries in. And we can do that online as well.

  35. @ Mark Yore

    If you deny my extrapolation to that circular logic then you bringing up that the “Just Vote 1” signs being legal (and for some reason bringing up a Labor illegally mimicking AJP cards) looks like a non sequitur. You’re going to have to explain more fully if you don’t like the conclusion I reached about what I thought you were trying to say.

    “For goodness sake have a discussion about what voting system would be best and then just make a decision”

    That’s… what I thought we were doing right here? I have repeatedly said why I think CPV is superior to OPV.

    In terms of a whole system rather than just a voting method I would prefer proportional representation rather than single member electorates. But that’s a larger reform than a simple change to CPV for divided QLD councils which could be done immediately with the stroke of a pen (and almost was!). Proportional representations for undivided councils could also be done with a stroke of a pen, and I would support that, but it would be more complex for the divided councils.

    I wouldn’t mind discussing donation laws. My seem basically the opposite of yours, I wouldn’t want the rules to be relaxed but instead tighten them. No entity except voters should be allowed to donate to political parties and it even then individuals should be limit to a small amount per term. Ideally I would also increase the public financing of election campaigns (QLD councils currently have none) and perhaps expand it to some variant of a “democracy dollar” idea where voters accrue a voucher that they give to candidates or parties *before* elections (public financing at the moment is retrospective only which I think is sub-optimal), but that’s getting into quite pie-in-the-sky experimental stuff. Fundamentally I think the efficiency of private wealth to influencing elections should be as low as possible, as a democratic principle.

    Moving the council election further away from the state election, and having them use similar voting methods, are great ideas. Those decisions are not within the remit of the ECQ though, that’s legislative.

    I am wary of introducing electronic voting. To me it’s an expensive boondoggle at best and a new vector for election security at worst. A solution looking for a problem. I am not at all impatient about the speed we get results in Australian elections. It’s not even a week since the election, not all the postal votes have arrived, and yet there’s a clear majority in the BCC. So where’s the issue?

  36. @Ben Messenger Yes, I argued that the best option would only allow individuals on the electoral roll to donate. Quoting myself…

    “In a perfect world there would be a donation limit and donations could ONLY be made by individuals on the electoral roll. Since that would exclude contributions by companies, organisations and unions I am realistic enough to know that the chance of that passing would be precisely zero.

    By all means introduce a cap, but make it applicable to everyone. Allow members and shareholders to “opt-out” of donations. Make those organisations that have had direct involvement with government decision-making ineligible to donate.

    At the moment many states do not allow property developers and associated entities to donate, despite the fact that a) it’s discriminatory as it applies a penalty to a group based on individual history; and 2) it applies a penalty across all levels of government that can only derive a possible benefit from one.

    I suggest that individuals and organisations that directly benefit from a government decision and the office-bearers not be permitted to donate during that term of government. Additionally groups whose sole reason for existing is to interact with government – principally lobbyists and some specialised legal and accounting firms – should be excluded entirely. And those businesses that take their license directly from the Government, such as casinos, should also be added to the list.”

    I mentioned public funding a little bit later.

    “The problem with most election funding is that it’s either based on the last election or spending is allocated based on an incomplete prediction of the outcome. Unfortunately this also tends to favour the incumbent parties and candidates.

    I suggest that public funding cover the various basic, fixed expenses for all candidates. This would include standard how-to-vote cards, enough standard corflutes to place two on each polling and prepolling booth in the electorate and a small amount to cover either a standard newspaper advertisement or the same amount spent on electronic media. The AEC would be responsible for allocating those funds provided by the Federal Government and should be able to get better rates for a bulk order. Any additional expenditure over and above this would be the responsibility of the candidate or party.

    The counter to this is that candidates may be run as dummy candidates by another candidate solely for vote harvesting or damaging their rivals. It’s not entirely unknown for this to happen and there would have to be some serious legal sanctions to discourage this activity. However this activity would obviously fall under group campaign activities.”

    In the event of a change of government I will be pushing for a change of date for Council elections and an Inquiry into the ECQ to see whether it’s fit for purpose. This is the third election in a row where they’ve made questionable decisions (plus the State redistribution if you want to count that).

    I think electronic voting can work as long as it runs parallel to a printed ballot paper. Not only will it speed up the process, but it has the benefit of removing handwriting variations and missvotes. There’s nothing worse than seeing a vote invalidated because you end up with a 1 and a 7 you can’t tell apart. It actually benefits CPV because it encourage voters to fully complete the ballot paper, even under OPV. However it also allows people to make a deliberately incomplete paper under OPV.

    I also made the observation that Australia Post is no longer able to fulfil their mandate for returning ballot papers within the statutory time and that introduces a structural bias against regional and remote areas.


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