Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Unintended Informal Voting In Tasmanian State Elections

Advance Summary

1. In Tasmanian state elections for the House of Assembly, any vote that fails to have the numbers 1-5 each once and once only is ruled informal and does not count.

2. A Bill to expand the Tasmanian House of Assembly would result in this being changed to 1-7. This would be likely to increase the rate at which voters voted informally by mistake.

3. The current rules very slightly advantage the Greens over other parties, especially Labor and most fourth parties and independents.  However, this hasn't decided any contest for a seat between parties in the last 30 years.

4. It is plausible that requiring voters to fill seven boxes without error would further increase the advantage for some parties over others, however the evidence on this is insufficient.

5. Unintended informal votes where a voter mistakenly omits or doubles numbers could be included in the count using a savings provision system already used in the ACT.

6. The view that the ACT system causes massive exhaust rates compared to Tasmania is based on a misunderstanding of the ACT computer counting system, which continues to distribute votes, creating spurious exhaust, after contests are actually over.

7. The ACT system may even help address exhaust issues partly by discouraging minor parties from needlessly running full slates of candidates.

8. Including more votes makes elections more inclusive!  We should do it. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It's a Joyce Joke: Barnaby's Senate Mutilation Madness

This article includes ideas for one I was working on last year but didn't get around to finishing off then.  I've been provoked to now do so by the news (tweeted by the AFR's Tom McIlroy) that Barnaby Joyce will on 24 Feb "present" a Bill to "amend the Representation Act 1983 - proposing six regions per state and two senators per region".  The exact form of the Bill has not been seen, and perhaps the proposal has been shorn of its more patently offensive and wrong aspects prior to tabling, so for the time being I comment on the history of Joyce's 2019 comments on this issue.  [EDIT: Nope, it's got even worse, see updates at the bottom.] The article should also cover ground that is useful if Joyce has modified his proposal.  I will add more comments when I have seen the actual Bill, which I assume will go nowhere.

General Background and non-malapportioned version

The concept of Senate districts is an old chestnut that takes its inspiration from Section 7 of the Constitution.  The Constitution only says the people of each state vote as a single electorate until the Parliament otherwise provides, which in theory allows the Parliament to come up with some other arrangement without needing to change the Constitution.  Furthermore, the Constitution explicitly canvassed that Queensland could be split into Senate divisions by its state parliament, until the Commonwealth parliament decided otherwise.  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Queensland 2020: Currumbin By-Election and YouGov Poll

(Now added: Bundamba, scroll down)

Queensland is heading for at least one unexpectedly interesting by-election early in another state election year.  Also, a new YouGov poll has come out that has been the subject of incorrect reporting concerning the Premier's unpopularity.  I thought it would be useful to have a post up covering these two issues in detail.

Currumbin (LNP, 3.3%)
By-election March 28

Currumbin is in Queensland's far south-eastern corner and includes the border town of Coolangatta (now a Gold Coast suburb) and surrounding southern Gold Coast suburbs and rural hinterland to the west of them.  It has been held by the retiring member, Jann Stuckey, since 2004, but before that was held by Labor's Merri Rose for 12 years.  From 1992 (when Rose first ran) until 2001 the seat was more Labor-friendly than the state average, but this ended with Rose's fall from grace and Cabinet in 2004 and since then it has reverted to being slightly LNP-leaning compared to the state average.  It is possible, as the departing incumbent Jann Stuckey suggests, that Currumbin is an electorate where perceptions of the candidate matter more than elsewhere.