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A How-To Website For Australian Voters

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the voting-by-esp-was-ruled-out dept.

Australia 158

Twisted64 writes "If you're interested in voting below the line in the upcoming federal election in Australia, but don't want to waste time in the booth individually ranking up to 76 candidates (for the unfortunates in New South Wales), then Cameron McCormack's website may have what you need. The website allows voters to set their preferences beforehand, dragging and dropping Stephen Conroy at the bottom of the barrel and thrusting the Sex Party into pole position (as an utterly random example). Once preferences are set, the site can generate a PDF to be printed and taken to the booth." (More, below.)"There's also something to educate the above-the-line voters — if you check the box for your single party of choice, the site will fill out the effective party preferences below the line. This shows that a vote for The Climate Sceptics hands first preferences to Family First, and so on.

The website claims not to harvest voting information, but for the paranoid it recommends printing out a blank ballot sheet and copying your preferences from the screen. There is also a button to set up a donkey vote when in the ballot view, in case you have trouble counting from 1 to 100."

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It's actually 84 (3, Interesting)

srjh (1316705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33106938)

There are actually 84 [smh.com.au] Senate candidates in NSW.

I think the system is obviously pretty broken if the only choices are to number each of 84 boxes, go with a pre-decided list that the main parties have reached through secret preference deals, or have your vote rejected. At the moment you have to choose between two evils, and it has been made as inconvenient as possible for you to even make that choice rather than the party powerbrokers.

Group voting tickets are just undemocratic. Preferential voting should only go as far as the voter wants - if your vote doesn't get distributed to any of your preferences, it should be discarded.

Re:It's actually 84 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33106976)

Even if one think it's stupid to "rank" 84 parasites, you must do so or end up in jail. Compulsory voting FTL!

Re:It's actually 84 (4, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107020)

No, all you must do is turn up. If you want you can put an empty ballot in, or write a diatribe on the back, or as many of our younger citizens do, draw a massive dick and balls on it.

Only attendance is compulsory, you don't actually have to cast a valid ballot.

Re:It's actually 84 (2, Interesting)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107338)

Only attendance is compulsory, you don't actually have to cast a valid ballot.

You don't even have to cast a ballot at all. I have refused to even take the ballot papers on more than one occasion. When the ballot papers are offered, I simply inform the scutineers that I have fulfilled my obligation merely by having my name crossed off the electoral roll - and walk out. They don't like it, but there's nothing they can do about it.

Re:It's actually 84 (2, Funny)

Chuq (8564) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107470)

So I'm assuming you don't complain about the result then?

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107538)

Why shouldn't he complain? By showing up but not filling out a ballot, he's voting "None of the above"

Re:It's actually 84 (2, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107474)

You don't even have to cast a ballot at all.

You do in fact! [austlii.edu.au]

I have refused to even take the ballot papers on more than one occasion. When the ballot papers are offered, I simply inform the scutineers that I have fulfilled my obligation merely by having my name crossed off the electoral roll - and walk out. They don't like it, but there's nothing they can do about it.

Sure there something they could do about it. They could put you on trial for a criminal breach of s245 of the C'th Electoral Act, or (more likely) they could fine you for the same. In reality they can't be bothered to do anything about it.

It's an open secret that, s245(6) notwithstanding, they rarely bother perusing anyone who simply ignores the fine.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

IMustBeNuts (1775480) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107688)

Technically, no. You're attendance confirms your intention to vote, and fulfils your obligations. After all of the votes are counted, a certain percentage are discarded due to errors, and any attendees who do not put a ballot paper in the box are noted as a discrepancy in the turnout vs votes cast and tallied with the informal votes.

So, there really is no secret to this.

At the end of the day though, it's pretty poor form, and you really only have yourself to blame when the government turns out to be crap... but then again, this is no worse than those who vote for a party simply because that's what their demographic always does, or to vote with the people most likely to win, or to vote simply to get the incumbents out of office, or those you fall for the media hype and the vapid election "promises" that are given simply to fool you into casting your vote thoughtlessly. In all cases, no thought goes into it and such voters merely contribute to the endless cycle of crap governance.

Now imagine what would happen if people were truly "informed", and cast their votes based on both conscience and logic! Yeah, it's a pipe dream... but who knows... the universe is a pretty weird place so maybe it might happen by accident some day! :-P

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107788)

Technically, no. You're attendance confirms your intention to vote, and fulfils your obligations.

If you'd spelt "your" correctly...

From http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/cea1918233/s245.html [austlii.edu.au] :

(1) It shall be the duty of every elector to vote at each election.

(2) The Electoral Commissioner must, after polling day at each election, prepare for each Division a list of the names and addresses of the electors who appear to have failed to vote at the election.

Actually, no. Your attendance and refusal to take a ballot form indicates your intention to NOT vote. Remember, "intention" is not sufficient. You have to vote, therefore you must take the ballot form. They cannot actually prove it was you who didn't fill it in correctly but you must take the form and lodge it in the ballot box.

They could do something about it if they really wanted to. The reality remains that it would mean a fairly large amount of work at each polling place to handle the few idiots who choose to not take a ballot paper. It's easier to just let them be idiots.

Re:It's actually 84 (3, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107832)

Technically, no. You're attendance confirms your intention to vote, and fulfils your obligations.

Where you people get this stuff from?! IAAL, so since we are talking matters of electoral law, 'technically' to me means you show me an Act of parliament of a curial decision rather than just making this stuff up. Allow me to demonstrate.

Technically, you can't be marked off the electoral role until after you receive your ballot. (C'th Electoral Act 1918, s232(1)) [austlii.edu.au] .

OR thus: Once you get your ballot paper you are required "without delay" to "retire alone to some unoccupied compartment of the booth, and there, in private, mark his or her vote on the ballot paper" (s233) [austlii.edu.au] [my emphasis]

So technically you must enrol, attend, collect your ballot, be marked off, and vote. Turning up and having your name marked off without collecting a ballot, spoiling your ballot, and all these other suggestions are technically illegal.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108236)

Every law has a loophole, the one you're missing is contained in the words in private. ie: They would have to break the very same law to confirm you are breaking the law.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107772)

peruse != pursue. They are not even homonyms, for Bob's sake!

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107868)

peruse != pursue. They are not even homonyms, for Bob's sake!

Nor even anagrams! And worst of all they mean completely different things, damn! I meant to write 'pursue' of course, I hope you were able to make that out from context.

Still it's not as bad as the mistake I made in my most recent post [slashdot.org] in switching from the second person in my own text to the third in the inline quote. Should be "a voter is required to ..." How embarrassment!

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Marcika (1003625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108134)

And I meant to say 'homophones', not 'homonyms' -- just goes to show...

How embarrassment!

Now you're just having me on, aren't you?

Re:It's actually 84 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107644)

They don't like it, but there's nothing they can do about it.

Having worked as a polling official on many occasions I can safely say that we/they don't care in the slightest whether you throw your vote away. In fact having strong opinions about political matters is actively discouraged among the AEC's temp workers, for pretty obvious reasons.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107738)

The polling officials aren't actually scrutineers - scrutineers are representatives of political parties (generally volunteers) who are allowed to be present during the counting of the votes. Polling officials are usually casual employees who just show up and do the job. They probably couldn't care less about whether you took a ballot paper or not.

I used to do that job during university. It was a long day, but decent money (varied, but around $350 - $400 for a long day). The only reason I can think of not liking you rejecting a ballot paper is it may screw up their accounting. Each ballot paper issued has to be accounted for at the end of the day.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107876)

G'day. I'm a polling official. The reason why we don't like it is that it is more paperwork for us.

At the end of the day, we have to account for every ballot paper issued that we can, because missing ballot papers is, in many countries, evidence of electoral fraud.

Your friendly polling official does not set the rules, and does not get paid any extra if there is extra paperwork incurred just because someone thought they'd be clever. If you don't want to make a formal vote, go for it. But please do us a favour and take the damn ballot paper and put it in the damn box.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107358)

All you must do is turn up. Have your name marked off, (or have someone else have your name marked off, as no ID is required or checked), then turn around and walk out.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107032)

It's not illegal to cast an invalid vote (it just won't get counted), and the punishment for not turning up is only a fine.

Still, compulsory voting does compound the deficiencies in our system. Most people go with the easy way out because they see voting as a chore, most evident in the high proportion of donkey votes (that's where a voter just numbers the ballot 1,2,3,4... for our international readers).

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107064)

I think it might be illegal to encourage people to vote informally though!

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107178)

Another stupid law curtailing free speech. Wee.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

TBBle (72184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107502)

The AEC's backgrounder [aec.gov.au] says not. It's illegal to _force_ or _bribe_ people to vote informally (or in any other way) though.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

TBBle (72184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107536)

Oh, except within 6 metres of the polling place, as per another AEC backgrounder [aec.gov.au] .

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107542)

It's illegal to _force_ or _bribe_ people to vote informally (or in any other way) though.

Another stupid law curtailing free speech. Wee.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107594)

It's illegal to encourage or mislead people into casting an invalid vote.
However, you can advertise anything that results in a valid vote. When I was at uni, a group of students ran off "How to vote Random" cards that explained that if enough people voted randomly the votes would cancel each other out. They stood outside their local polling booth handing out the cards and loaning dice to voters, until the party hacks handing out their how to vote cards called the AEC to get rid of them.
Since they hadn't registered as interested parties before the election, they had to stand more than 400 metres from the polling booth entrance, so the AEC guy made them stand out in the street. However, since their dice rolling instruction cards resulted in valid votes, they were free to keep handing them out. The AEC guy also told them they could register next election, and get their cards approved, if they wanted to stand with the party hacks.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107660)

Okay, replying to myself, it seems I was wrong about the illegal bit, but I was remembering back to an incident that happened in the 80's!
And I think I got an extra 0 on the distance they had to move. I'm surprised they let people like me vote. :-)

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108098)

OT, but I wanted to thank you for creating this site. Much kudos.

Re:It's actually 84 (3, Insightful)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107134)

Still, compulsory voting does compound the deficiencies in our system. Most people go with the easy way out because they see voting as a chore, most evident in the high proportion of donkey votes

One or two percent is a "high" proportion? "Most voters" are taking the easy way out? Our system has "deficiencies" which are "compounded" by people actually voting?

One is reminded of that Churchill quote about democracy being the worst form of government ...

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107154)

The problem with "donkey votes" is that politicians waste time arguing about who gets the top slot -- which they wouldn't care about if not for said votes.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

R4nneko (1194727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107188)

No they don't, the sheet order is random for this reason.

Re:It's actually 84 (4, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107226)

The problem with "donkey votes" is that politicians waste time arguing about who gets the top slot

They don't. The position on the ballot paper is drawn by lot.

The real problem with donkey votes is that the people casting them are negligent in fulfilling their public duty to vote.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107438)

The real problem with donkey votes is that the people casting them are negligent in fulfilling their public duty to vote.

Yes, that's right. They just don't realise! You have to become a politician to earn the right to be negligent in fulfilling your public duty!

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107506)

You have to become a politician to earn the right to be negligent in fulfilling your public duty!

Oh come on now. Everyone realises that you don't have to become a politician to do that! Becoming head of a bushfire authority works just as well ... especially if you're feeling a bit peckish.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107522)

One is reminded of that Churchill quote about democracy...

What was it? Oh yeah... The best argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with the average voter.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107566)

You'd probably enjoy the Spike Milligan quote, which (from memory so excuse any inaccuracy) runs something like:

In a democracy people get the government they deserve. And so do I.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

vandan (151516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107596)

One is reminded of that Churchill quote about democracy being the worst form of government ...

The problem is that Churchill was a racist, biggoted prick. If he lived in our times, he could have been charged with war crimes ( though of course like current politicians who commit war crimes, there is little chance that this would actually happen ).

Re:It's actually 84 (2, Insightful)

YoshiDan (1834392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107234)

If you don't like having to vote then you shouldn't enroll. I never enrolled, didn't vote in the last 3 or 4 elections and I haven't even had a fine.

Re:It's actually 84 (1, Informative)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107378)

If you don't like having to vote then you shouldn't enroll.

Nice try, but every person who is entitled to have his or her name placed on the Roll ... and whose name is not on the Roll upon the expiration of 21 days from the date upon which the person became so entitled ... shall be guilty of an offence ... [austlii.edu.au] .

I never enrolled, didn't vote in the last 3 or 4 elections

You're probably safe here, but in general I would advise you not to brag too much about your criminal activities on public internet fora. ;)

Re:It's actually 84 (2, Insightful)

YoshiDan (1834392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107436)

The government knows I'm not enrolled. The AEC has been sending me enrolment forms ever since I turned 17 (so for the past 5 years). I just put them in my 'filing cabinet' (i.e. rubbish bin.) Crime or not they don't seem to care about it, otherwise they would have fined me or something by now.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107634)

I just put them in my 'filing cabinet' (i.e. rubbish bin.)

Which is what I did with the fine I got for failing to vote in a local council election long ago (I don't think they'd even bother to fine you for that now, that is if you still have a local council that hasn't been replaced by Frank Sartor with an "independent" administration). It's what most people who get fined do, end of the matter.

Crime or not they don't seem to care about it

Exactly. Australia has "compulsory" voting, dontcha know.

Re:It's actually 84 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107012)

It does do that.

This is why we have above/below the line voting. If you want to select only one, then you can do that. If you want to preference, then you can do that also.

I think preference voting is a very good compromise, but the voters need to be educated in it, rather than following blindly. Also, they need to know that if you make a mistake you can get a new ballot paper, and you can keep getting them until you are satisfied with your vote.

It is also good because you can protest vote without your vote being totally invalid. For example if you are Labor (but not entirely satisfied), you can have as first preference as an independent, and then vote labor. This way, you don't have to vote either/or, or spoil your vote, but you can vote for someone who represents your views while still identifying that you prefer Labor over the fundies.

FWIW, I think Tasmania has the best voting system of all states.

Re:It's actually 84 (4, Interesting)

srjh (1316705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107072)

No, if you vote above the line, you're not selecting only one candidate, you're picking their pre-submitted preference list instead of your own. That's the main problem - the voters don't make the choice directly and the parties make deals or tactical decisions with their pre-submitted tickets. Slashdot's favourite Senator Stephen Conroy tried his luck at tactical voting in 2004 and accidentally elected a fundamentalist nutjob who got about 1% of the primary vote because they were trying to hold off a challenge from the Greens (when most Labor voters would have preferenced Greens first).

A preference system is better than a first-past-the-post system, but the current system isn't perfect. Most Australian states currently go with optional preferential voting, which should be the way to go.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107298)

That was no accident, Stephen Conroy allows the labor party to introduce right wing religiously motivated laws without taking the blame themselves.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107746)

No, what you describe is only true if you vote once above the line (just place a 1 in your preferred party). If you fill out all the boxes above the line, then you dictate your own preferences.

Voting above the line is generally the most sensible option - I really don't have the time to audit all the various options below the line, but I can check out the policies of all the parties.

Re:It's actually 84 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107850)

If you fill out all the boxes above the line, then you dictate your own preferences.

If you fill out all the boxes above the line, your vote is invalid and will not be counted.

You may only enter a 1 in one box above the line, nothing else.

"One above, or all below" is the rule

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107860)

No. If you fill out all boxes above the line you have voted incorrectly and the ballot will possibly not be counted depending on how badly you failed to follow simple instructions, the mood of scrutineers, the closeness of the ballot etc. In the best case the ballot will be treated as if only the "1" was present. Voting - The Senate [aec.gov.au]

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

mr_snarf (807002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108192)

No, you are only meant to fill in one box above the line. If you put a mark in more than one box it won't make any difference to your vote, or it may be marked as informal. (I say may, because my sources aren't clear on what happens if you fill out more than one box). What are you talking about is what Bob Brown of the Greens party is suggesting would be a better system, but its not what we have at the moment. Sources: http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_vote/Voting_Senate.htm [aec.gov.au] http://www.comlaw.gov.au/ComLaw/Legislation/ActCompilation1.nsf/framelodgmentattachments/DEC4F8A1D65DEBBCCA25776B001D4AC4 [comlaw.gov.au]

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107084)

Yes. It's MUCH better for two parties to each select a candidate, then have everybody vote either A or B.

I heard it makes things go much better, particularly in Florida, where dead people and people with alzheimer's get to vote. It must be rather icky for poll workers when people who recently died show up.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Matt_R (23461) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107432)

go with a pre-decided list that the main parties have reached through secret preference deals

They're not secret. http://www.aec.gov.au/election/downloads.htm#gvt [aec.gov.au]

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107500)

True, the tickets aren't secret, although most people don't know where to find them.

I was referring more to the deals and behind-the-scenes reasoning which led to the group voting tickets, though.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107872)

You can ask to see the group voting information at the polling booth on the day.

Re:It's actually 84 (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108064)

Group voting tickets are just undemocratic. Preferential voting should only go as far as the voter wants - if your vote doesn't get distributed to any of your preferences, it should be discarded.

The net effect of which would be ... letting others decide for you. The same as voting over the line, just in a slightly less predictable fashion. I don't get why it should make such an important difference?

I think the group voting tickets are interesting in their own right, for what they say of people's prefences. Looking at a group for equal parenting rights, for instance, I see that they rate Christian and "Family First" candidates highly (beyond their own), understandably enough... but then - climate denialists? And what's with the greens at the bottom, do greens advocate the abolition of parentage rights or something?

Can't say I'm surprised, though. There are similar groups in Norway, I see the same there. Although I have a lot of sympathy for father's rights to their children and vice versa, it seems the people who organize around it often are disappointed in government due to run-ins with custody courts. Then they find Libertarianism online, and take the whole package with global warming denial and tax is theft and whatnot.

in brief: Those lists give valuable information to the informed voter.

Slashdotted (5, Informative)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33106970)

OK that didn't take long. The site seems to be slashdotted already. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea for it to be serving 500KB @font-face referenced fonts from my little VPS. :) Once everybody's stopped clicking the link, I'll try moving the static data over to something that can handle it, like an Amazon S3 bucket.

Re:Slashdotted (1)

Looce (1062620) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107014)

500 KB Web fonts on a Slashdotted page... I guess one thing you can do now is replace that declaration with "font-face: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;" everywhere.

Re:Slashdotted (4, Funny)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107026)

If I could ssh to the machine, I would. :)

Re:Slashdotted (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107290)

If I could ssh to the machine, I would. :)

Out of curiosity...

Where are your backups?

Re:Slashdotted (2, Interesting)

dropbearsrus (1197177) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107018)

Cameron, love the site, it's a great tool. I managed to have a look before it was nuked.

The AEC should have thought of this a long time ago!

Now all we need is some information on those dozens of independent candidates. Beyond their name. Google could only help me with a few of them.

Re:Slashdotted (3, Informative)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107042)

If you're really keen, then the list of candidates that the AEC publishes includes telephone numbers for all of them, and email addresses for many of them. In case you can't find any useful information online, you can always ask them their position on the issues you think are relevant.

Re:Slashdotted (1)

duk242 (1412949) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107024)

Was about to say "argh the site is down!"

Re:Slashdotted (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107118)

Looks like it is your name server, ns.mcc.id.au, that has fallen over.

p.s. I need to get up to speed with Google App Engine, so would love a shot at porting your application to that. Let me know if you're interested.

Coral Network (1)

muphin (842524) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107334)

what happened to the coral network, it used to save so many sites from being slashdotted.

Re:Coral Network (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107682)

I think part of the problem with Coral Cache is that many filtering systems (WebSense etc) completly block it (because it could be used to bypass the filtering system and access banned content)

Idea for the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107392)

BTW, you know how the pollies really only campaign the marginal electorates and forget about the rest? I've had this idea (never got around to implementing it though), of providing a web app that works out (maybe using the white pages) a voting scheme which would make every electorate marginal. E.g. if everyone with a surname before say 'Peabody' in the white pages voted labor and the rest voted liberal, in suburb X, it work make X a marginal suburb. Extend that to all the suburbs and the whole country becomes a marginal electorate.

Re:Idea for the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107936)

I like that idea, but I think it would be better to sort by volunteer status, rather than name. See, all the "Peabody"s of the electorate aren't necessarily going to vote with your scheme (for any number of reasons). What you could do is run a web app which tells each new registrant which way they should vote in order to make it a swing electorate. If you get enough registrants to actually tip the scales, your web app automatically starts telling new registrants to vote the opposite direction (alternating between one and the other). Continually calibrate it with the latest "traditional" opinion polls, and watch the pollies sweat.

Perhaps you could have a "One-In, One-Out" feature, whereby a registrant requests to vote a certain direction (familial pressure, biases, or they believe election promise codswallop), and the system asks another registrant (or the next new registrant) to switch their vote. Who should be asked could be decided by a "I'm interested in being asked to switch if necessary" tick-box on the registration page, and an algorithm to determine the "best" person to ask.

Now, some might say "but what if the registrants don't vote the way they say they will?" That's not the issue - remember that the idea is to get politicians to THINK you're a swing electorate BEFORE the election, so that they can beg for the non-registrant votes (and they won't know registrants from non-registrants so will be forced to assume everyone is a legitimate voter). They won't find out who's committed until after the election; and anyway, hopefully the uncommitted registrants will be spread evenly between each party, and so will cancel each other out.

Re:Slashdotted (1)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108138)

The site's kinda running again now, albeit a bit slowly. Don't all go clicking at once now. :)

Not an australian voter... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33106998)

"The website allows voters to set their preferences beforehand, dragging and dropping Stephen Conroy at the bottom of the barrel and thrusting the Sex Party into pole position (as an utterly random example)."

Hah. Random. Right. Anyway, I LOLed. Thanks again, Australia!

Re:Not an australian voter... (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107008)

The ballot in NSW is NSFW.

Re:Not an australian voter... (1)

StupiderThanYou (896020) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107276)

The ballot in NSW is NSFW.

That's what people from the other states call NSW.

Just to be clear (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107078)

Non Australian voters might be confused by this article because it gives the impression that you need a HOWTO to be able to vote. But thats not true. Just give people you don't like high numbers, and people you do like low numbers. Its still pretty simple.

You can tell from my sig. Labour candidates are getting high numbers from me in the senate this year.

Re:Just to be clear (1)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107166)

So, what do they do if you do a "donkey vote", but instead of 1,2,3, you do 2,3,5,7,... or 1,1,2,3,5,8,... Do they just throw the ballot out?

Re:Just to be clear (2, Informative)

M3gaBight (968603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107284)

In the senate you're allowed three sequencing mistakes before you paper is thrown out. Anthony Green's election guide [abc.net.au] is a pretty good starting point for those wanting to better understand our voting system. He also has pretty good guides of how much the voting has to swing for seats to change hands - Senate [abc.net.au] and House of Reps [abc.net.au]

Re:Just to be clear (1)

myforwik (1465003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107884)

3 mistakes? Unbelievable. But from what I read it means I can write 1,000,000 next to labour and it will still be a valid vote :-D

Re:Just to be clear (1)

M3gaBight (968603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107918)

It probably would. As someone below mentioned, as long as your intention is clear that's fine. In that case the one you marked as 1,000,000 would be taken as the last number on the form (assuming no other mistakes)

Re:Just to be clear (1)

myforwik (1465003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107920)

Its also interesting that your vote will be informal if you can be identified from the ballot paper.... very wierd.

Re:Just to be clear (1)

Grail (18233) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107308)

What you are suggesting is pretty close to a "Langer Vote" (ie: number the guys you like from 1 to N, fill the remaining boxes wiht N+1). This is specifically legislated against in the commonwealth Electoral Act, 1998 amendments.

When voting "below the line", the numbers must start at 1, they must be consecutive, and all boxes must be numbered. If those simple rules are not followed, the vote is invalid. When voting "above the line" the voter just puts 1 for their preferred party, and the various preferences distribution deals take over to determine the voter's intent independently of the voter.

Re:Just to be clear (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107764)

As someone who has counted votes at elections, the rule of thumb we were given is "as long as a clear preference is indicated".

Re:Just to be clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107340)

And labor will be getting the low numbers from me.

Anything would be better than an Abbott PM.

Greens with balance in senate good too!

Put Liberal last everywhere!

Another Below the Line helper (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107088)

Actually here's one that actually scales:
https://www.belowtheline.org.au/

Re:Another Below the Line helper (4, Interesting)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107102)

Yes, this site's good too. Had I known it existed a few weeks ago when I started working on mine I may not have bothered. ;)

Re:Another Below the Line helper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107182)

As the developer of belowtheline.org.au, I'd happily join forces. =)

Contact details are on the site.

Re:Another Below the Line helper (1)

myforwik (1465003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107894)

Wow nice site. Very handy to look up preferences! Glad to see that libertarians recognise greens as the most socialist party!

link appears borked (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107106)

The link to the belowtheline website appears to be borked in the article.
A quick Google, finds https://www.belowtheline.org.au/ [belowtheline.org.au] however.

Silent Electors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107114)

Does the site have the ballot for silent electors?

Re:Silent Electors? (1)

Cameron McCormack (690882) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107130)

I'm not sure what special functionality would be needed for silent electors.

Re:Silent Electors? (1)

Nqdiddles (805995) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107190)

None as far as I'm aware. A silent elector has their address suppressed in the electoral roll, but would still be voting for their electoral division just like anyone else.

For Victorian resident there is this site as well. (1)

cfl (82047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107152)

Just waiting for the voting guides.

http://www.filter-conroy.org/ [filter-conroy.org]

Google Docs Party Comparison (2, Informative)

pbarker (109538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107212)

The following document is a summary of the parties and their positions on various subjects. Publically modifiable, so if you can contribute, please do.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AgwGFHFd0TUIdExCbkNZWllUaVRsRG9yZXVVTXhUN0E&hl=en&authkey=CJu2lp8P#gid=0

Re:Google Docs Party Comparison (1)

Twisted64 (837490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107256)

45 simultaneous users? Now that's collaboration!

www.belowtheline.org.au (1)

sferau (1835492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107326)

Anything to do with www.belowtheline.org.au?

Yay, A site telling me how to preference my votes (1)

happydaisy (1868482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107458)

Not sure what the deal is with belowtheline.cc (has it been /.ed already?) But belowtheline.org.au is very telling. It is telling me that a vote for democrats above the line will likely be a vote for liberal due to them being preferenced second place... I think I'll do my own preferencing

So why isn't it an officiel site? (3, Insightful)

Lorens (597774) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107604)

Why doesn't the AU government provide the service? Why is it left to some random website to provide a means to vote more easily?

Re:So why isn't it an officiel site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33108194)

That way their hard work rigging their preferences would go to waste.

Re:So why isn't it an officiel site? (4, Informative)

Biogenesis (670772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108228)

They do. They're called "how to vote cards". As you walk into the polling booth you're handed bits of paper from people representing many of the major parties. They contain facsimiles of the ballot papers which have been filled in to their liking, allowing you to copy the vote your favourite party wants without thinking.

How to Vote in South Australia (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107684)

Below The Line - How To Vote In South Australia [scribd.com]

If Internet Censorship is your main concern this coming election, the following guide has been created online via BelowTheLine.org.au [belowtheline.org.au] and using the different parties websites and statements on policies to order them.

While they are ordered in preference of internet censorship, the top 2 are ordered based on their ability to influence. The rest are ordered within their preference (against/unknown/for) relatively randomly, except with the Australian Labour Party being given a dead last position, to reduce their influence.

This ballot will result in your vote being against internet censorship, as much as possible.

If you want to change some of the ordering around a bit, feel free to edit the ticket here...
Edit Below The Line - How To Vote In South Australia [belowtheline.org.au]

Just make sure you keep them in their general positions.

Some information on what positions each party is taking can be found here, though it's good to go over their websites, news articles, and similar...
Australian Political Parties who oppose and support Internet Censorship [blogspot.com]

Re:How to Vote in South Australia (1)

myforwik (1465003) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107742)

Its sad how people have such skewed priorities. The government taxes us avg. 25% on income and 22% of the money we spend also flows back to them, they are nearly 50% of our economy, and yet people only care about trivial issues like blocking a few http websites and how we treat a few boat people. Its sad.

Re:How to Vote in South Australia (1)

definate (876684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33107782)

You think civil liberties are sad?

I like how you reworded internet censorship, into "blocking a few http websites". As if it was a minor thing. You must be new around here.

If you really want to know about censorship, then all you need to do is Google a bit about it.

Here's the latest article I'm reading about it...
Classification and Internet Censorship as an Election Issue [gizmodo.com.au]

Quite frankly, if you think bickering over money spent here, and money spent there, is more important than free speech (or immigration in the case of boat people), then you've got your priorities all fucked up.

Civil Liberties (1)

Dinjay (571355) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108052)

You make an interesting point. That article you linked to is Fiona Patten, the leader of the Australian Sex Party and the Eros Association so you have to admit that she’s not purely objective/independent in this situation. Also, I think both censorship and refugees have to do with civil liberties.

For the record, I agree with your position against that censorship, but I don’t see how you can conclude that it is the main issue in this election.

From my understanding, censorship in the context of the filtering Refused Classification (RC) rated internet content is impractical for a variety of reasons, will reduce internet speeds and could be a slippery slope to more draconian censorship. Australian’s treatment of refuges and the demonisation of the boat people already leads to pain, suffering and death of a very vulnerable group of people that Australia has already agreed to protect through international conventions.

When I look at it this way, I don’t see how you could conclude that censorship is a more important issue and voting should be made along censorship.

FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33107974)

in Oz you can just nominate the party of preference at the top of the voteing paper and the numbers are set as that party has published. As for those like me who number each square, that's the price of actually thinking. Why do we need a /. entry for this crap??

Voting Above and Below the line (2, Informative)

ras (84108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33108248)

A wise person votes both above and below the line. If you do that and stuff your below the line vote up then your above the line vote gets used instead.

See http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2010/07/how-to-vote-guide.html [abc.net.au] , in the last section titled What happens if I vote both above and below the line? .

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