20 August 2010

How to vote below the line easily (Election post number 9)

And now it is time to look at The Senate.

I've found this great webpage, [link removed, see below] by the way, which helps you put together your own how-to-vote card for the Senate. But more on this in a moment.

Edit 18/08/2013: Vote below the line has moved here.  Also, I think it's worth noting that this stuff relates to the 2010 election.  I'll try to do an updated one for the 2013 election, if I get time.

Edit 18/08/2013: Well, it appears that someone else has moved onto the belowtheline.org.au website and are offering the same thing as last election.  Boy, does my face look red.

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. And it discriminates against the ungrouped independents, because they don't get to be regarded as one of these groups.

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

But you can still vote below the line. Using this method, you can determine your preference for each of the candidates for the Senate. In my state of Victoria, there are 60 candidates, which means that I will have to number 60 boxes. This sounds a bit full on, but you sorta have to do this - I notice that looking at the one for Victoria, the major parties have made preferences that I am grossly uncomfortable with.

Belowtheline.org.au [link removed, see note above] is a wonderful website that you can use to assist with this tedious and error-prone task. I'm going to generate my own how-to-vote card for the Senate now, just to show you how easy this site is to use.

You select your state to get started.

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 page [link removed, will try to find some updated info somewhere].


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:

Very bottom (dangerous nutters)

  • Citizens Electoral Council - extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists
  • Shooters and Fishers - gun nuts
  • Socialist Alliance - extreme left-wing nutjobs

Nearly bottom (theocrats)

  • Family First - ECP fundies
  • Democratic Labor Party - catholic fundies
  • Christian Democrats - traditionalist protestant fundies

Almost nearly bottom (not quite so dangerous kooks, but kooks nonetheless)

  • Joseph Toscano ticket - large-A Anarchists
  • One Nation - considerably right of centre racists
  • The Climate Sceptics - anti-science global warming deniers
  • Liberal Democrats - extreme free-marketeers

Other independents

  • Grant Beale
  • Glenn Shea

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. Wow - that's half the order already sorted out. Not bad, huh?

The majors

After all these, above 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 doing something slightly different with a certain Labor senator, though. See if you can guess who he is - you'll see that there are pretty cool things to voting below the line.


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.

They can be separated into two categories: Desired, interesting and a category that I haven't noticed before - industry representatives.

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
  • Stephen Mayne ticket - seasoned shareholder activists and corporate transparency campaigners
  • Australian Sex Party - civil libertarians who have impressed lots throughout the campaign
  • Australian Democrats - still their to keep the bastards honest, although not so influential these days

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.

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

  • Senator on-line - undertake to put all votes for internet approval if elected. Interesting.
  • Socialist equality party - moderate left of centre bunch

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

Industry groups (I have a soft spot for those who believe in their industries, up to a point)

  • Carer's Alliance - represent those who care for the disabled and the disabled themselves
  • Building Australia - represent the building industry, curiously both employers and union groups.

Now once you've got all these in order, hit the "Next" button to continue.

You'll now see a list of all candidates, in order of how they appear on the ballot paper. You can continue if you like the order, but I'm going to do one more thing:

Move Stephen Conroy to after all the rest of the majors

This guy is an embarrassment and is not fit to hold office. On top of this, if Conroy is not elected and Labor get in, they will not be able to claim a mandate on internet filtering. This is another really cool thing you can do when voting below the line.

After this, I'm going to stuff around with the order of candidates some more - for example, I might order Labor from the bottom up, randomise the kooks a little. Why do I do this?

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

Now, I just have to click on "Create ticket".

I can see the names in order, but if I want something a little easier to read, hit the "Download PDF" button and marvel at the results.

This is just brilliant.

Enjoy the election, folks.


Blamer .. said...

Print yourself a ballot box cheatsheet, everybody.

It couldn't be easier. Seriously.

Dikkii said...

Yeah, it's brilliant. I love it.