04 September 2013

Voting below the line - 2013 edition

I don't think I need to remind you, folks, why it is a good idea to vote below the line for the Senate.  Very simply put, it is TOTALLY UNLIKELY that the party that you want to vote for first will have preferenced the same way that you want to preference.

Theoretically, this should mean that Australians should vote below the line more often than not, but as we have discovered on numerous occasions, Australians couldn't give a rats arse about voting properly.

In my Senate post from the last election, I did a bit of a guide in how to vote below the line for Senate candidates.  I have to update this now, because obviously it's out of date.  And do bear in mind that this refers, primarily, to the Senate ballot paper for Victoria, but you could, potentially, use the same line of thinking for the other states as well.

Also, in the last election, I showed how you could use the excellent work of belowtheline.org.au to make yourself a customised how-to-vote card to ensure that your vote counts.  This is even more important, since I am looking at what the ballot paper will look like in Victoria, and there appear to be 97 goddamn candidates.

(Another site to look at this year is senate.io which is doing something similar to belowtheline.org.au.  There is another but its name has escaped me.)

The Senate is the house of review in Australia. Each state elects 12 senators, and the NT and ACT get two each. Of these, 6 from each state and 1 from each territory come up for election each election.

As a result, voting for the Senate can confuse your average punter senseless.

At some stage in the past, some bright spark said, "Hey, let's make it easier for voters and allow them to vote for one bunch of candidates."

Naturally, this has led to possibly the silliest scenario in Australia where you only need to number one box when voting in the Senate, oblivious to what your vote will do if you don't get your first preference.

It is up to the party that you vote for as to where your preferences go, if you vote above the line. This is where you can find out how they have directed their preferences.

Pretty much everyone in this election (not just the major parties) have made preferences that I am grossly uncomfortable with.  So I will be voting below the line.

And, just like last time, I will be generating my own how-to-vote card, utilising the tools at belowtheline.org.au or senate.io.  I'm using senate.io today.

You select your state to get started from the tabs at the top of the page.  I'm in Victoria.

This takes you to a page where you can see each party's group ticket. I don't want to look at these, so I'm going straight to generating mine from scratch.

Now you now will find yourself looking at a list of the different groups. Don't be too dismayed that you can't see the candidates - you'll get a chance to play with these shortly.

Drag and drop the groups into the order that you'd like. I'm going to talk about the basic order that I would like to use, so while you're having a play, allow me to get started. To assist you at this point, there's a great list of links to information about each party on this post from Crikey.

The lunatics, theocrats, insubstantials, threats to democracy, candidate space occupiers and WikiLeaks

It helps me to start off by considering who I definitely DO NOT want in the Senate first and dragging them down to the bottom.

Into this group go the kooks, nutbars and theocrats. I certainly won't be considering these.

I'm dragging the following down to the bottom part of the ballot paper. This year, I have most shame reserved for who I think is the most dangerous party to hit Australia in recent years, a party that makes Family First look almost moderate in comparison: Rise Up Australia.  I will also make a point of ensuring that Danny Nalliah gets place number 97, but I'll show you how to do that later.

Absolute bottom
  • Rise Up Australia - kooks, nutbars AND theocrats.  Ultra-extreme ECP fundies.


Very bottom (dangerous nutters)

  • Citizens Electoral Council - extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists
  • Shooters and Fishers - gun nuts
  • Socialist Equality- extreme left-wing (Trotskyist) nutjobs
  • One Nation - considerably right of centre racists
  • Stable Population Party -  more serious racism under the guise of resource control

No Socialist Alliance, this year.  Damn.  Also, thankfully, we don't have Australia First (neo-Nazis) or Australian Protectionist Party (extreme Islamophobes) on ours.

Nearly bottom (theocrats)

  • Family First - ECP fundies
  • Democratic Labor Party - catholic fundies
  • Australian Christians - I'm not sure who these guys are, but someone told me that they are traditionalist protestant fundies, just like the Christian Democrats, however they're targetted at a younger generation.  Because the Christian Dems have no yoof-pulling power, apparently.  So that's why they're here.

No Christian Democrats this year.  But they'd be here if they were.

The LDP circle-jerk
This year, there have been attempts to manipulate the whole democratic process from the Liberal Democrats, who are extreme free market libertarians.  Thanks to their faffing around with preferences, we have no group voting ticket at all from them (or their different fronts) and we know that they set up three additional groups of front candidates which must be identified and of course, publicly shamed.

Here's where they will reside:
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Australian Republicans
  • Smokers Rights
  • Stop the Greens

Almost nearly bottom (not quite so dangerous kooks, but kooks nonetheless)
  • Joseph Toscano ticket - large-A Anarchists
  • Bob Nicholls ticket - no idea what they're about, but a Eureka flag is never good news.
  • No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics - anti-science climate denialists.  Also, these guys have very heavily preferenced the religionistas.
  • Australian Voice Party - illegal immigrants and food security, struggling small business, crime out of control.  Call the waaaaambulance!

OK, that is pretty superficial of me to focus on Bob's Eureka flag, but his platform is pretty light for information - blah blah tax reduction, blah blah consultation, blah blah Australian made.

Insubstantial single issue parties
I do like some single issue parties, but sometimes their platforms are a waste of everyone's time.

So into this bunch go the following:
  • Bank Reform Party - There to fix the banks, supposedly.  Their website is light-on for detail.  Have done a preference deal with the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts.
  • Australian Motoring Enthusiasts - Their description in Google contains the words "family values" which is missing from their website. That's enough alarm bells for me.
  • Bullet Train for Australia - BTFA are honest enough to say in big letters that they will ABSTAIN on voting on other issues outright.  That's a waste of everyone's time and I'm a supporter of high speed rail in Australia.
  • Country Alliance - I genuinely think that country communities are good and all, but can't in good conscience defend more handouts to rural Australia.  And that's what I'm worried these guys are after.
  • Fishing and Lifestyle Party - platform contains precious little on "lifestyle", but lots on trade protectionism, aquaculture, border protection, and fishing the Great Barrier Reef.  No.
  • Building Australia - purports to represent the building industry but very little policy detail on its website.  Mostly stuff about selling the ABC and reducing pollies' superannuation.  No idea what this has to do with building.
  • Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) - A lot of detail but only related to marijuana legalisation.  Some of the other parties do this sort of thing better with a bigger policy platform.
  • Animal Justice Party - these guys have a "manifesto".  Eeek.  I think the Greens have this area covered a little better.

What to do about Wikileaks Party
Their candidates have been pulling out, they botched their preferences and in a nutshell, they just don't have their shit together.  I'm putting them down here, because frankly, they have disappointed everyone, shafted a few people, and their number 1 candidate in Victoria is trapped in an embassy in London.

Preferencing these guys above the majors is a waste of a preference.

Other independents

  • Lynn Gunter
  • Darrell Scott Morrison

Sorry, folks. You independents might be great, but it's very difficult to find any information out about you guys.

And after this, I put the majors. That's over half the order already sorted out which makes the job immensely easier.

The majors, Palmer and Katter

Before all these, before the lunatics go the majors. This forms two functions: It pretty much prevents my ballot paper going any further, and, well, frankly, the majors don't have much separating them. I still can't decide in which order I'm going to place the ALP and the Lib/Nats, so I'll leave them as they are, but they always seem to go in the middle.

I will be tampering with the Coalition's ticket.  They always put the Nationals' candidate down the list in the number 4 position.  I will be putting him ahead of the Liberals, because frankly, the Libs are a little scarier than the Nats at the moment.  And that's saying something.

Still not sure where I am going to place Palmer United and Katter's Australian Party.  They may go before the majors, after the majors.  Or even in between.

Preferred candidates

Above the majors go the ones that I do agree with, that I would like to see in the Senate. Let's talk about these now, because I rather like some of these.

Desired (the ones who go up the top)

  • Australian Greens - campaigners on green and social justice issues
  • Secular Party of Australia - fighting for separation of church and state
  • Australian Democrats - still their to keep the bastards honest, although not so influential these days
  • Pirate Party - possibly the killer package this election.  Great platform that targets privacy, civil liberties, justice and intellectual property overreach.  Also, their transparency on preferencing was first class.

I've provisionally put the Secular Party up the top, but I could change my mind on this. I blogged about the all-important first preference spot here during the last election.

Interesting (almost up the top - I found their platforms intriguing)

  • Senator Online - undertake to put all votes for internet approval if elected. Interesting, but I suspect that this might be gamed if they are elected.
  • Australian Sex Party - civil libertarians who impressed greatly during the last election.  They have been tarnished during this election by some frankly disgusting preferencing (like One Nation above the Greens) but were very lucky that WikiLeaks stole the bad media that they could have generated.
  • Stop CSG - looks single issue, but their platform extends further into health, sustainability and education.  I liked them
  • Drug Law Reform - whilst they're a single issue party, this is important enough of an issue to be up near the top of my preferences.  The other parties will not touch this issue.
  • Australian Independents - policy is to put electorates first over party and personal concerns.  I like this.

I'm curious about these guys, so I'm putting them up there to see how they go.

Now once you've got all these in order, change the view (up the top, near the PDF print out button but on the right-hand side) to "ballot view".

You can stuff around with the order of candidates some more, here - for example, I might order Labor from the bottom up, randomise the kooks a little. I've already told you that I'm planning on moving the Nats' candidate in front of the Libs' ones.  You just click on the up and down arrows next to candidates underneath the number box next to the candidate's name that you want to move.

Why do I do this? Because I'm a complete bastard, that's why. Someone has to count this paper.

But in addition, I want to ensure that Rise Up Australia's number one pick, who is also number one on the ballot paper, is firmly ensconced in last position on mine.

I can see the names in order now, but before going off to a polling station, hit the "Download PDF" button and marvel at the results.  Remember to print.

This is just brilliant.

Enjoy the election, folks.

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