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Be careful with your voting: preferences DO count

You arrive to vote. You know who you want and you are ready to put Number 1 on your fave politician. Simple. But then you read the instructions: On the green HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ballot paper, you need to put a '1' in the box beside the candidate who is your first choice, '2' in the box beside your second choice and so on, until you have numbered every box.

You need to number every box for your vote to count.

So you put a 1 next to the person you would most like to win. Hooray !!

You then put a 2 next to your second choice, and a 3 next to your third choice, and so on until you run out of names on the paper. If you are clueless to who they all are you might use a Candidates HOW TO VOTE hand out that was given to you as you ran the gauntlet at the front door. The candidates have made deals and exchanged "preferences" based on "if you back me then I will back you". Look at Warren Mundine's How to Vote handout and you can see that if he didn't get in then he wanted the Nationals to get in ... and if they didn't get the numbers to win then he wanted the United Australia Party, Christian Democrats and Independent, then Labor and lastly, he suggests voting for the Greens last. These are his preferences and if you follow his How to Vote it reveals a lot about the man, his political beliefs, his allegiances and who he doesn't want to work with the most.

Warren didn't win. In fact he lost dismally recording a 16.9% swing against his party. But Labor didn't win outright on the day either. Only 36.9% of voters put a Number 1 next to Labor. This required a second count, and a third and a fourth... And each time the preferences were passed on when someone was excluded. Below in the table you see the 1853 CDP votes trickled down to the other parties based on their preferences. It is evident that they had VOTE 2 for Liberals and Vote 3 for Nationals. But still there was no winner achieving the magic 50% of votes. The next count saw the UAP lose. So those votes were handed out. It is clear that they preferred the Independent over the others. But that didn't help the Independent in the next round of counting and he was dropped. But still no 50% winner. Labor was on 41.991%, Nats on 16.58% and Wazza from the Liberals 32.43% The next round saw the Greens dropped. The Greens liked Labor more than the Liberals and the Nats so Labour picked up 9809 votes but still they were short of the required 50% The next round saw the Nats dropped. Because they had done a deal with the Liberals many expected that this might be the decider to see Liberals retain the seat but the little gift of 14926 National votes weren't enough and Labour won the day with 56.652% over Liberal's 51.025% And every time there was a recount it was your vote and how you put your NUMBERS 1 to 7 on the ballot paper that gave the final result. So PREFERENCES MATTER as you can see and where you put your Number 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

It is important to realise that preferential voting means that the person who wins the most 'first preference' votes might not win the seat.

If a candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the first preference vote, it's game over. They have won. If not then it is recount and recount and recount until someone does. The SENATE paper is different: If your Number 1 doesn't get in your vote then passes down to your second pick. Above the line

Number at least 6 boxes for parties or groups in the order of your choice (with number 1 as your first choice).

Below the line

Number at least 12 boxes for individual candidates in the order of your choice (with number 1 as your first choice).

You can number as many additional boxes as you choose when voting either above the line (i.e. more than six boxes) or below the line (i.e. more than twelve boxes).

and, as you now know .... your numbers 1 to 6 above the line OR 1 to 12 below the line REALLY DO MATTER. So on voting day have a very close look at the How To Vote cards being handed out because that will tell you who has done deals with who and who is least prepared to work with who.

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