Elections and Vote-counting Services
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Types of Assistance with the Scrutiny: Proportional Representation Society of Australia (Victoria-Tasmania) Inc. provides elections and vote-counting services, for the fees below, using software that can count a small election, or one with up to 65,000 ballot-papers and 200 candidates. PRSAV-T Inc. will not charge for recommendations about electoral systems being used or considered. The earlier a client gives us notice the more likely it will be that an Officer can attend. At least one week's notice is preferable, except for a Type 5 Count below, where at least three weeks' notice is normally needed.
It conducts counts for systems other than the quota-preferential system of proportional representation if required, as such a count can demonstrate the advantages of PR over other systems, and also as PR is not applicable for elections for a single position. For larger-scale elections, consider the Australian Electoral Commission’s fee-for-service.
PRSAV-T Inc. can, as its clients require, provide one of the following five types of service as assistance with the scrutiny:
TYPE 1 - On-site counting by PRSAV-T Inc: One or more of PRSAV-T Inc’s Accredited PR Vote-counting Officers (click here to see list) can visit your premises and conduct the count for, or assist, your Returning Officer, either manually on paper, or that PRSAV-T Inc. Officer or Officers can use our counting program, either with your computer or computers, or if you have no computers, with a laptop computer brought by us. Visits by PRSAV-T Inc. Officers can be within or outside normal working hours, by arrangement.
TYPE 2 - You enter voting data on a prescribed spreadsheet that PRSAV-T Inc. then counts: The cost of a visit is very much reduced, or avoided, if you sort the ballot-papers into stacks according to the first preference votes shown and then key - stack by stack, taking the stacks characterized by the first preference candidate distinctive to each one in the same order as the candidates' names appear on the ballot-paper - the preferences shown on the ballot-papers into a prescribed Excel spreadsheet that PRSAV-T Inc. supplies you in accordance with written instructions it provides, so its program can utilize that spreadsheet to conduct the count.
That spreadsheet has inbuilt warnings to alert the user to informal ballots, or formal ballots with duplication or omission of later preference markings. It also sums the first preference votes for each candidate. You can then arrange a short visit by a PRSAV-T Inc. Accredited PR Vote-counting Officer to rapidly perform the count, which ensures that the original voting information always stays with you. PRSAV-T Inc. would leave you with a results sheet as an Excel spreadsheet, and will, if requested, email you a signed Certificate of Computation of Election Results on PRSAV-T Inc. letterhead as a PDF file, and a colour hypertext or PDF file for display on your website, as is needed to avoid one or more of the surcharges below.
TYPE 3 - Contact by internet or mail: As for Type 2, except that PRSAV-T Inc. does not visit you, but instead receives the completed prescribed Excel spreadsheet by email, USB drive or CD-ROM posted to it at the above address, or placed on a nominated web page, after which PRSAV-T Inc. would then email or otherwise send you a results sheet as an Excel spreadsheet or, if required, as a colour hypertext or PDF file for display on your website, and a signed Certificate of Computation of Election Results, as with Type 2.
This approach is by far the cheapest option as it can use a minimum of 30 minutes of our time, and hence attract only our minimum charge, except where irregularities, unusual or non-standard arrangements, or a large scale poll, occur, and require more time. This Type 3 Service is also useful as a re-assurance and confirmation for those Returning Officers that prefer, or are required, to conduct a manual count. If the Type 3 result were found to differ from the Returning Officer's manual result, that would be a useful warning that further work is needed to obtain results that match each other, whereas an initial match is a good confirmation of the manual count. When a conversation with us would help, use the contact numbers above.
TYPE 4 - Submitting paper records to PRSAV-T Inc: You can deliver the ballot-papers, or a certified copy of the information on them, to PRSAV-T Inc. at the above address. It can count them and post or email a result back.
TYPE 5 - Appointment of a PRSAV-T Inc. Officer as your Returning Officer: Alternatively, PRSAV-T Inc. can provide one of its Accredited PR Vote-counting Officers to be appointed by the client as the Returning Officer for the election, and that can extend to PRSAV-T Inc. conducting the entire election, including the printing of ballot-papers, and the posting and receiving back of electoral material by post in the case of a postal ballot.
Please note that PRSAV-T Inc. requires notice of at least three weeks before the date on which it is first required to post material, and requires a minimum interval of three weeks between the date on which nominations are to be sought and the close of nominations if it is asked to call for nominations, and a minimum interval of three weeks between the date prescribed for its posting ballot-papers and the close of the ballot.
Results file in hypertext (.htm) format, or in PDF format, with hypertext links: As well as providing the client with a signed and dated report by an Accredited PR Vote-counting Officer on PRSAV-T Inc. letterhead, we can produce a .htm or a PDF results file, each with hypertext links, that we can post or e-mail to you or place at a Web page we nominate, from which you can download it. You can place that file on your website and thus avoid some or all of the surcharges on our base hourly charge as stated below. We also provide, if required, a Summary of the Scrutiny and its Results as an Excel spreadsheet file. See, as an example, the results sheets that PRSAV-T Inc. prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation Inc. for its 2003 Council elections, which ACF displayed on its website for some six months after those elections.
Data Entry: The only significant time-consuming task is the entry of the preference markings on each ballot-paper either into a prescribed format of Excel spreadsheet, or directly into the computer while our program is running, where it is saved. Our Officers’ rate of data entry is about 1,000 preferences per hour, but skilled data entry professionals should easily exceed that.
Instruction in the use of the Proportional Representation Manual: PRSAV-T Inc. will provide an Accredited PR Vote-counting Officer to visit you to answer questions on, and explain how to apply, in a manual count, using the Quota-preferential Counting Sheet it sells, the Rules of the PRSA for Conducting Elections by the Quota-preferential Method as set out in its Proportional Representation Manual. That will include, if requested, having the client conduct, under that Officer's supervision, a practice count for the election described in Example 1 in the Proportional Representation Manual, using the 65 ballot-papers relevant to that count that we will bring, and that will demonstrate most of the situations and possibilities that a Returning Officer is likely to encounter in most moderate-sized election counts. Alternatively, or additionally, PRSAV-T Inc. can work with you while you apply the Proportional Representation Manual in an actual count you need to conduct. Instruction service charges are the same as our vote-counting charges below.
Base Hourly Charge: PRSAV-T Inc's charges do not include Goods and Service Tax, as its annual turnover is below the threshold for that. PRSAV-T Inc. will send you a Tax Invoice for its services stating that. PRSAV-T Inc. has a base hourly charge of $90.00 per Officer for the time each of its Officers is working on your task - usually one Officer is enough. There is also a charge, at half that base hourly charge, for the time each Officer spends travelling to and from the site involved, and also the re-imbursement of reasonable transport costs, which might be either for public transport (as low as $3.60 per day for a Senior) or for a private vehicle at recommended RACV rates, depending on the persons and locations involved, but firm advance quotations of that can be given, and it is recommended that such written quotations should be obtained before using our services. The hourly charge is the base hourly charge except where it is added to if one or more of the four Surcharge hourly additions A-D below apply. The minimum total charge for service is $45.00.
PRSAV-T Inc. advice on election rules, and its service for filling of casual vacancies for an election that it has conducted using a computer count where such vacancies can be filled by it electronically, are each free of charge.
If the information on the ballot-papers is supplied to PRSAV-T Inc. in other than the particular Excel spreadsheet format we prescribe, the charge at our base hourly rate is about 9 cents per candidate multiplied by the total number of ballot-papers, both formal and informal, examined, as we convert that information into the prescribed form for the client. Any postage or telephone costs in returning the ballot-papers and results, will be charged, as will extra time caused by irregularities or inconsistencies that are not the fault of PRSAV-T Inc. (at the base hourly charge plus any applicable hourly surcharges). The printout of the election result is free, but a printout of more than four pages of the table of preference markings for each vote costs 30 cents per page plus postage.
Once data entry is completed, or the prescribed Excel spreadsheets loaded and joined to form a single spreadsheet if necessary, the program is run, and a result is obtained, almost immediately. In addition, if requested, the data entered can be left with the client as an Excel spreadsheet or PDF file emailed to the client. A paper copy of that detailed data can be provided, but with a large election that can extend to a large number of pages.
Any IBM-compatible computer, running Windows 98 or later, is satisfactory. A single USB drive is sufficient. Inkjet or laser printers are equally acceptable. If a printer is unavailable, the report is usually simple enough to be transcribed from the monitor display, but PRSAV-T Inc. can print a report and post or email it to the client. PRSAV-T Inc. can usually bring a laptop (to be used by its Officers only), but many clients prefer to have us use their computers.
Filling any Casual Vacancies after a PR Election: Click on the hyperlink at left for more details. The PRSA recommends that the important principle of direct election by the voters of all the representatives, as also specified in Sections 7 and 24 of the Australian Constitution, be maintained in the filling of casual vacancies by a prescribed re-examination of the ballots cast at the election at which the vacating representatives were elected.
Elections Counted: One of the largest-scale elections PRSAV-T Inc. has assisted with was the 1994 triennial postal ballot for the Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation Inc. It involved some 2,700 ballot-papers. In the ACF Returning Officer's written report of the poll result posted to all ACF members she kindly acknowledged PRSAV-T Inc's assistance with the count. PRSAV-T Inc. also assisted with the ACF's 2000, 2003 and 2007 postal ballots. Click here for a list of the organizations for which PRSAV-T Inc. has assisted with counting, or has conducted the entire election.
SURCHARGES A-D: The minimum base hourly charge per person assisting increases by 25 percent in each case, A to D below. It doubles in the event, which planning would normally make unlikely, that all four surcharges A-D apply.
For single-vacancy polls only, the expression, “the majority-preferential method (alternative vote)” is to be substituted for the expression below, “the quota-preferential method of proportional representation”.
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