SOAPBOX: What’s wrong with just voting ‘1’?

THIS notion that ending optional preferential voting is in some way a restriction of liberties is utter guff.

I'm not defending the reasons for the change. They, like the introduction of optional preferential voting in the first place, appear calculated to tilt the odds in favour of Labor.

However, putting the whole issue of goalpost shifting aside for a moment, it's important to stop and consider what optional preferential voting means in terms of empowering and engaging voters.

When voting you are asked to choose your favourite candidate followed by your second favourite, third favourite, and so on.

This means when your vote is being counted the people (or computers) doing the counting assign your vote to your favourite candidate. If it turns out nobody apart from you likes the Breatharian Fruitcake candidate and they haven't a chance of being elected, the counters will then assign your vote to your second favourite candidate. Rinse and repeat until someone is elected.

If, under optional preferential voting, you just put a '1' next to his or her Fruitiness and left it at that, then once your candidate is eliminated your vote is effectively binned.

Sorry, you don't get a say in this election.

Optional preferential voting seems simple and there is a certain vengeful satisfaction in refusing to assign a vote to someone you particularly dislike. However, ultimately it's just another form of disempowerment for an electorate that is too marginalised as it is.


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