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ACT voters have extraordinary power in the upcoming election. Thanks to Hare-Clark voters can influence choice of both parties andA sensible voter who understands the critical nature of preferences will have significant influence on who gets elected. The vast majority of the 25 members who are elected will finally get there on preferences.
Although the ballot paper will instruct you to number “at least one to five” on the ballot paper, the knowledgeable voter will continue voting. Follow through numbering the ballot paper as far as possible – with one exception. Avoid putting a number against a candidate that you consider intolerable.
ACT legislation gives priority to recognising voter intention, which means that even if there is only one number on a ballot paper it will be valid and will go to that candidate. However, that vote is likely to be wasted either in part or wholly. The further a voter numbers the boxes, the more likely they will have a say in who gets elected. It is a complex preferential, proportional representation system to understand in its entirety. However, it is not difficult to use.
There are 141 candidates registered for the October 15 election, more than ever before. However, there are also now five, rather than three, electorates. There are 24 candidates in Yerrabi, 27 in Kurrajong, 28 in Brindabella, 29 in Murrumbidgee and 33 in Ginninderra. It will not take too long to sequentially number all the individuals in preferential order in any of the electorates.
As other candidates drop out, the chances improve for a candidate. Not putting a number against a candidate who is philosophically or personally unacceptable avoids any chance of support. A candidate may remain in the race after a lead candidate (such as the Chief Minister or Opposition Leader) has an excess of votes beyond a quota distributed. Secondly, other voters may have stopped voting early with the objectionable candidate remaining in the race while others are eliminated. An undesirable candidate might eventually pick up the vote that has been cast by someone who really did not want to assist in their election.
The flipside is a voter who keeps placing numbers against as many candidates as possible is much more likely to have a stronger voice around who is elected.
Policy plays an incredibly important role in elections. However, under our system of preferential, proportional representation, Hare-Clark, being well-known is also a very important factor for someone hoping to get elected.
The electorate of Murrumbidgee is interesting with only two sitting MLAs. Both are Liberals – the well-known and popular Opposition Leader, Jeremy Hanson, and colleague Giulia Jones. Labor doesn’t have a sitting MLA as a candidate. The best known, beyond sitting members, are former Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur and long-term Canberra identity Robbie Swan, who is standing for the Australian Sex Party. Labor’s Mark Kulasingham and Rebecca Cody are known – but not to the extent of the others. These candidates have the advantage of being listed under a party name – bringing policy and identity together.
The electorate of Ginninderra has most candidates. There are eight independent candidates including Leigh Watson and Kim Huynh. The major parties have sitting MLAs and the daughters of two MLAs from the first Assembly, Labor’s Yvette Berry MLA (daughter of Wayne Berry) and Liberal Denise Fisher (daughter of Trevor Kaine). Vicki Dunne MLA and Chris Bourke MLA are also contesting this seat. The Greens Indra Esguerra has been a political staffer and will add interest to this electorate. They will compete with smaller parties and less-known candidates.
The ACT government will have a major influence on our lives – on education, health, rates, roads and amenity. Work out who is worth voting for in this election and keep numbering as far as possible.
Michael Moore was an independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.