Electoral Reform Australia is the NSW Branch of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia. We promote better electoral models for government and all other elected bodies.
What we stand for
WE support the use of proportional representation for the election of all representative bodies.
Many forms of proportional representation are available and most, if not all, are preferable to the system of single-member electorates current in most of the nation’s lower houses.
The Single Transferable Vote (STV), also known as the Hare Clark system, is the model supported by Electoral Reform Australia.
Under a STV electoral system, instead of returning only one member per electorate, two, and preferably more members are elected from each electorate. Each successful member is elected, not by a majority, but by a quota which is determined by a mathematical formula. A candidate is elected when he or she achieves enough votes to reach a quota. For every quota a political party receives it will elect a candidate.
The result is that representatives are returned in the same proportion as votes cast for their party.
The STV model favoured by Electoral Reform Australia would include:
- Multi-member electorates returning at least nine members each.
Electorates returning nine or more members guarantee that the quota for election is 10% or less.
Electorates returning at least nine members reduce the likelihood that the electorates will be in electoral stasis – a reasonable swing in political terms will be reflected in a change in the political representation within the electorate.
- Multi-member electorates returning as far as possible the same number of members.
In single jurisdictions, such as state parliaments and local government, the electorates should all return the same number of members.
As the number of representatives in the Australian House of Representatives is determined by the Constitution, the electorates within a state and between states should be as equal as possible.
- Robson Rotation should be used to randomise the order on the ballot paper of candidates within party groupings.
- Fully optional preferential voting.
Any vote with a single 1 should be included in the count as a formal vote. A single tick or cross should be treated as though the voter had marked the ballot paper with a 1.
Voters should be encouraged by wording on the ballot paper to continue their preferences but should not be penalised if they choose not to do so.
- High electoral deposits.
Electoral deposits should be substantial, levelled against each candidate rather than the party, and returned in quarterly instalments with the whole of the deposit returned when the votes received by the candidate reach 4% of the total formal vote.
Parties should be allowed to run as many candidates as there are positions to be filled, but to be entitled to a party grouping the party must run at least two candidates.
- The Meek method for counting a STV ballot.
In this computer age the Meek Method for counting a proportional representation ballot should be used as it allows the fairest distribution of preferences.
- The use of Countback to fill casual vacancies caused by the death or resignation of elected members.
The ballot papers from any election should be kept and the whole ballot recounted as though the dead or retiring member had not contested the ballot. Regardless of the result, no sitting member should lose their seat by the use of the countback provision.
- Electorates returning an odd or even number of members.
Provided the electorate returns at least ten (10) members there is no need to avoid having an even number of members returned. An excessive adherence to the principle of having electorates return an uneven number of members will distort the quotas and the principle that every voter should be treated as equally as possible.
Electoral Reform Australia does not support, and considers detrimental to democratic expression, the use of the following provisions:
- Above-the-line voting and any associated registered group voting tickets.
The use of above-the-line voting undermines the ability of the voters to freely chose their own representatives. The associated group voting tickets transfer power from the voter to party officials and gives unwarranted power to frivolous groups and joke candidates. The use of such tickets so far has resulted in the election of some candidates with miniscule voter support who, without the use of such devices, would never have been elected.
The use of thresholds has the potential to distort the result of an election. STV should be allowed to work. If a party, or group of parties, is able to reach a quota then that group is entitled to representation. Thresholds are an unnecessary manipulation of the system.
- Division of local government areas into wards.
Electoral Reform Australia does not support the subdivision of local government areas into wards. STV guarantees that any group can be represented provided it can reach a quota. If voters believe that their area of the council needs to be represented by locals then they have the power to elect such representatives. Similarly, if they believe that a candidate from another area of the council better represents their views then they should not be prevented from supporting such a candidate.