PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA

Tel +613 9589 1802

Tel +61429176725

18 Anita Street

BEAUMARIS VIC 3193

 

info@prsa.org.au

www.prsa.org.au

2014-05-19

 

Why Multiple First-Past-the-Post Systems that many groups use are defective

 

Example of the Votes Cast in the 1973 Election of the Australian Conservation Foundation Inc. Council:

The 5 candidates with the most votes, in each of the 7 electoral districts below, shown in bold type and more heavily shaded, were elected. As each Australian Conservation Foundation voter had 5 votes, each vote being given effect by the voter marking a cross against a candidate's name, rather than the single transferable vote that now applies, the same group of voters could elect all 5 candidates, if that group was the biggest single group of voters - even if the group was well short of being a majority of all the voters.

 

Also, for a ballot to be valid, it was required that no fewer than 5 crosses could be marked (which is not a requirement under common law, but is an arbitrary, unjustifiable restriction that is often applied in order to favour the election of organized groups of candidates over individual independent candidates). That meant that those voters that found there were fewer than five candidates they wanted to see elected had to give an equal vote to a candidate or candidate that they did not favour (thus cancelling out the vote they gave to their preferred candidate or candidates), simply to meet the requirement to mark all 5 crosses. That aspect would not apply where plumping is allowed. Click here to see the fatal flaws of plurality, or first-past-the-post electoral systems.

In Victoria and Territories, where there were most candidates, leading to more vote-splitting, a minority of votes elected all 5 candidates. THE MAJORITY OF VOTES ELECTED NOBODY. Without the mechanism to show preferences for transfer and have them implemented, as the quota-preferential PR system now does, many votes were wasted, as shown below. With PR since 1974, some 80% of ACF voters typically find that their vote has contributed to electing a councillor ahead of other candidates they preferred less. The Australian Senate used ACF's pre-1974 electoral system up till 1917, but it had no PR until 1949, owing to an interim majority-preferential system being used.

 

Here, a minority of voters did not manage to control the whole ACF Council, but many organizations use that flawed system to elect their entire governing committee from a single electoral district, where a result below like that for Victoria, or the Territories, can occur.

 

TOTALS

VICTORIA

NEW SOUTH WALES

QUEENSLAND

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

TASMANIA

TERRITORIES

Elected

Dorward DF

514

Dunphy MK

301

Webb L

213

Bonython CW

207

Chittleborough G

141

Lake PS

69

Rudman P

92

Elected

Turner JS

508

Recher HF

273

Harrold A

197

Andrewartha HG

200

Serventy DL

120

Jones R

55

Edwards A

89

Elected

Butcher AD

443

Talbot FH

270

Mather P

157

Inglis WG

195

Ride WDL

89

King CF

47

Schodde R

88

Elected

Bayly IAE

425

Clark P

243

Stocker P

138

Caldicott RC

187

Rundle GL

85

Parr G

37

Hill JH

82

Elected

Campbell IC

422

Dorman HC

242

Roe J

119

Coulter JR

158

Jenkins CFH

83

McRae M

36

Walsh WP

81

Not elected

Downes RG

416

Middleton

229

O’Grady

117

Ball

156

Bannister

71

Anderson

35

Harris

76

Not elected

Goode GWG

409

Turner

153

Hegerl E

115

Butler

124

Blackwell

71

Guiler

34

Christian

75

Not elected

Davis W

398

Slade

138

Sinclair J

108

Giles

104

Hutchison

66

Steane

33

Shaw

71

Not elected

Austin CN

369

Magowan

113

Dixon

93

Swaby

93

Erickson

54

Lane

33

Hare

67

Not elected

Desailley RO

345

 

 

Kesteven

88

 

 

Hamersley

49

Sims

31

Shorthouse

67

Not elected

Champion R

285

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butcher

47

Wyett

12

Vandermark

62

Not elected

Cullinane WJT

165

 

 

 

 

 

 

De Rebeira

31

 

 

Beaton

44

Not elected

Briggs WRS

164

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carstairs

43

Not elected

Larkins FP

153

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sinclair

35

Not elected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O'Brien

33

Not elected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brown

24

Not elected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawford

10

Not elected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davey

2

 

  VICTORIA

NEW SOUTH WALES

QUEENSLAND

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

TASMANIA

TERRITORIES

 INFORMAL  BALLOT- PAPERS

1

0

0

1

0

1

1

Votes 
electing a candidate

 2312

 1329

 824

 947

 518

 244

 432

Votes not electing any candidate
(WASTED)

 2704

 633

 521

 477

 389

 178

 609

Total formal votes

5016

1962

1345

1424

907

422

1041

Total ballot-papers

1005

393

269

286

182

85

209

% vote 
electing a candidate

 46.1%

 68.1%

 61.1%

 67.1%

 57.1%

 58.1%

 41.1%

% vote not electing any candidate (WASTED)

 54.1%

 32.1%

 39.1%

 33.1%

 43.1%

 42.1%

 59.1%

 

TOTAL VOTE FOR ELECTED CANDIDATES

TOTAL VOTE THAT ELECTED NOBODY (Wasted)

TOTAL VOTES

TOTAL NO. OF BALLOT-PAPERS

% OF TOTAL VOTE THAT ELECTED CANDIDATES

% OF TOTAL VOTE THAT ELECTED NOBODY
(Wasted)

6,606

5,511

12,117

2,424

55.1%

45.1%

 

REMEDY:  This was the last ACF Council election using the first-past-the-post multiple vote, which applies under common law if no sounder system is prescribed, before the ACF Constitution was changed to specify the use of quota-preferential proportional representation (PR). That PR system  is also called the Single Transferable Vote, and is used when elections are held for the Tasmanian and ACT Lower Houses, the Senate, all mainland Upper Houses, and municipal elections in NSW, SA, Tasmania, and most municipalities in Victoria.

That change was the result of a motion to alter the ACF Constitution being carried by a secret postal ballot of its members, which required that at least 60% of members supported that change. Unfortunately the ACF abandoned secret postal ballots for changes to its Constitution in 2006, so now PR for ACF Council polls can be abolished by a motion carried by a 75% majority at a General Meeting, with proxy voting available.
To see the results of the ACF elections in 2003, using the quota-preferential form of PR, click here.

 

Click here to go to A Brief History of the PRSA and its Purpose